Imagine you are a health professional working in an environment where health is not the primary focus. You may or may not have access to your patient’s medical information. You are isolated from the rest of your colleagues and wear a multitude of hats within your professional role. Where can you turn for professional advice and consultation?
School nurses in central Wisconsin are receiving this professional support through a partnership between Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS) and Marathon County Special Education (MCSE) to provide a physician medical advisor.
The School Medical Advisor Program was started as a pilot in 2018 and assigns a MCHS pediatrician to act as a School Medical Advisor (SMA). The SMA provides numerous services including assistance with policy and procedures for student care, training, support, advocacy for children’s health, and collaboration with Public Health officials.
Marshfield Clinic Health System pediatrician, Jeffrey H. Lamont, MD, a long-time pediatrician and recognized state and national leader in school health issues, brought the idea to MCHS leadership several years ago. Dr. Lamont and MCSE, which provides school nurse services to six rural school districts in Marathon County, recognized an increasing need for school health services as the health needs of school-aged children grew in scope and complexity. At the same time, school health nursing capacity is lacking in many counties where school health nurses are often shared amongst schools and school districts.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the school health environment in 2020, progress was made toward program goals. Dr. Lamont has monthly meetings with school nurses and provides consultative services as needed. Standardized medication authorization forms and emergency action plans were developed, and staff development continued throughout the school year.