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Need-to-Know Information for the School Nurse

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As the health needs of schools have changed since 1902, the role of school nursing has evolved to meet those changing needs.

The school nurse plays an important leadership role in prevention of illness or injury, identification of medical problems through screening programs, and overall health maintenance. This is particularly important when a student has a chronic condition that requires more intense monitoring. One such condition is Marfan syndrome. It is estimated that 200,000 people in the United States have Marfan syndrome or a related connective tissue disorder, although many are not diagnosed until it becomes life threatening.

The school nurse is in a unique position to identify students in need of an evaluation for Marfan syndrome. Sensitive and professional communication of this concern can help identify, diagnose, and manage students who might otherwise have slipped through the cracks. Early diagnosis and management is crucial in order to assure that those affected have hope for a normal life-span. If not diagnosed and managed appropriately, it is anticipated that many, if not most, affected people will have a potentially fatal aortic dissection and rupture in their thirties or forties (The Marfan Foundation, 2000).