Better Health, Better Learning Report - July 2017 SCORE Better Health Better Learning Report_July 20 - Page 15

Additional resources in schools to expand access to health services could lead to gains in both student health and academic achievement. In Tennessee, health professional-to-student ratios in many areas lag behind national standards. The Association of School Nurses, for example, advises a ratio no greater than one nurse for every 750 students to maintain a safe school environment, compared to the funded ratio in Tennessee of 3,000:1. Fewer than half of Tennessee schools employ full-time nurses. 37 The School Social Work Association of America recommends a ratio of 250:1, while the National Association of School Psychologists advises a ratio of no more than 700:1. 38 Professionals from these fields in Tennessee generally face far larger student caseloads, making it difficult to provide the level of care many students need. In Tennessee, videoconferencing technology has allowed greater access to health care in recent years. Both rural and urban districts in Tennessee use telemedicine to expand access to medical professionals for students. According to the TDOE’s Office of Coordinated School Health, “Of the 155 schools that provided clinic services in 2015-16, 77 percent used telemedicine.” 39 Videoconferencing technology allows doctors and nurses to visit with patients and provide a diagnosis without being on site. Continued expansion of this technology-based solution to health care access holds promise for students, but schools and districts continue to need added personnel to address the chronic conditions many students across Tennessee experience. The Niswonger Virtual Health Clinic is available in 66 schools across the state. Through this service, health practitioners are able to help students with symptoms ranging from fever and sore throat to limb sprains and chronic illnesses. Source: Elizabethton Star, May 2, 2017 14