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Keywords:

  • Student health services;
  • youth health;
  • primary health care;
  • evaluation studies;
  • health assessment

Abstract

Objective: To describe the changing role of school nurses in eight New Zealand (NZ) secondary schools from low socio-economic areas with high Pacific Island and Māori rolls.

Methods: An evaluation of a pilot addressing under-achievement in low-decile schools in Auckland, NZ (2002-05). Annual semi-structured school nurse interviews and analysis of routinely collected school health service data were undertaken.

Results: Two patterns of school nurse operation were identified: an embracing pattern, where nurses embraced the concept of providing school-based health services; and a Band-Aid pattern, where only the basics for student health care were provided by school nurses.

Conclusions and Implications: School nurses with an embracing pattern of practice provided more effective school-based health services. School health services are better served by nurses with structured postgraduate education that fosters the development of a nurse-practitioner role. Co-ordination of school nurses either at a regional or national level is required.