Medication Management in Minnesota Schools

Exploring Options for Pharmacists to Partner with Licensed School Nurses

When students in the college receive a scholarship, they are invited to an event to introduce scholarship recipients with the donors who make them possible.

Randy SeifertA conversation between Professor Randy Seifert and Cindy Van Kirk—a donor’s daughter who happens to be a licensed school nurse (LSN)—sparked an idea: How could pharmacists collaborate with school nurses to advance high-quality medication management for the benefit of Minnesota students?

Today’s LSNs are responsible for increasingly complex medication management and administration issues.

“Students attend school for six to seven hours each weekday and our LSNs are concerned with the medication challenges they see on a daily basis,” said Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Meg Little, EdD, RN. Meg Little, EDd, RN

An increase in the rates of childhood asthma, diabetes, obesity, mental health and other diagnoses—along with advances to allow more students with complex medical issues to attend school—have led to the increasing expansion of the LSN role.

Increasingly, students require medication administration at school with the top three drug categories of asthma medications, psychiatric medications and insulin.

Little and Seifert approached Mary Jo Martin, past president of the School Nurse Organization of Minnesota (SNOM), and were invited to present on the concept to its board of directors.

“We received very interesting information from the SNOM board members and determined that the idea merited further exploration,” said Seifert.

“A licensed school nurse is often the sole health care provider in a school district,” said SNOM president Susan Nokleby, MS, RN, LSN, NCSN. “Collaboration between health care providers is essential to coordinating services for students. Having a LSN and pharmacist relationship would enhance safe medication management for students.”

As a next step, researchers from the college, SNOM and the Minnesota Department of Health conducted a 32-question online survey of LSNs in Minnesota—the results of which were published last year in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.

The potential benefit of formally connecting community pharmacists with LSNs was confirmed through the research. The survey found that the majority of LSNs felt strongly that partnerships with pharmacists would improve medication management in schools, and that very few of the LSNs had any formal existing relationship with a pharmacist.

According the Little and Seifert, the next steps are to seek funding opportunities to establish a model and community standard, and then to develop a pilot program for the pharmacist-LSN partnership.

“From serving as a resource for consultations, to working directly with the school nurses on training, policies and procedures for disposal and storage, proper administration and more, there are many opportunities for collaboration between pharmacists and school nurses,” said Seifert. “We’re excited about the potential this type of partnership has to optimize drug therapy outcomes for students.”