An Exploration of School Nurses' Perspectives in Caring for Homeless Children



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Naturalistic inquiry methodology was incorporated into a qualitative study designed to explore the experiences and perceptions of school nurses working with homeless, elementary school-aged children. The researcher employed purposive sampling to recruit participants from members of the National Association of School Nurses. Recruiting was supplemented by snowball sampling. Eligibility criteria were nurses with a minimum of one school year prior experience and current employment as school nurses providing direct care to elementary, school-aged children. Thirteen school nurses participated in semi-structured telephone interviews. Data were collected from demographic questionnaires and interview guides. Interview data were analyzed using Lincoln and Guba’s (1985) processes of unitizing data, emergent category designation, negative case analysis; and bridging, extending, and surfacing the data. Analysis of study findings resulted in the identification of three categories describing school nurses encounters with the health and social needs of homeless, elementary school-aged children: (a) school nurse education; (b) school nurse practice; and (c) policy impacts. Additional insights into school nurses’ practice issues related to nursing care of homeless, elementary school-aged children were discovered. Implications of the study findings provided a basis to recommend further research into this important but understudied aspect of school nurse practice.



Health Sciences, Nursing, Health Sciences, Public Health