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The Nurse's Office As A Refuge 3

Source: Monograph vol.55 edited by Educational Research Center, Benesse Corporation
(Supervising Editor : Dr. Masashi Fukaya, professor, Tokyo Seitoku Junior College)


This chapter examines how junior high school students use the nurse's office, the frequency of their use, and how the students regard the nurse's office and the school nurse.

1. Purpose of Visits

Students were asked how often they visited the nurse's office and 17.8% answered that they visited more than 2 or 3 times a month(Table 28). It does not seem that many students use the nurse's office as a refuge at school. What kind of students visit the nurse's office? The percentage of visitors is under 20% and we examined it in terms of gender and grade. As noted in the findings at the end of this report, a greater percentage of girls often visit the nurse's office. By grade, more eighth and ninth graders visit the nurse's office. This may be due to menstrual problems and other physical ailments experienced by girls.

Furthermore, we examined the relationship between the frequency of visits and other items to study the characteristics of the students who visit the nurse's office frequently. Tables 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33 show the relationship between frequency of visits and student's health. It appears that students who often visit the nurse's office are physically weak, suffer from constant lack of sleep, and are irritable. As such, students, who do not have regular daily habits and are under much stress, visit the nurse's office more frequently.

We also studied the relationship to refusing to attend school, a tendency that has gained much attention in recent years. As shown in Table 34, students who tend to be absent from school make frequent visits to the nurse's office. It is not clear whether students who are physically weak by nature or those who want to avoid school use it often. However, as mentioned later, it is certain that the nurse's office functions as a refuge for students who display a tendency to refuse to attend school.

Table 35 shows the multiple reasons given for visits to the nurse's office. 73.8% stated that they visited the nurse's office for injury or illness. This is an understandable result since this is the original purpose of the nurse's office. While the percentages were small, others cited advice on health matters (5.3%), lack of adequate sleep hours (4.3%), dislike classes (4.2%) and minor problems (3.0%). It is like junior high school students today to visit the nurse's office only because they feel sleepy, but in addition to this reason, it is striking that 3% to 5% of the students chose the school nurse as a counselor. Students visit the school nurse for physical ailments and take the opportunity to ask the school nurse for advice which appears to be typical of the type of counseling given by school nurses.

Table 36 is a total of when students would like to visit the nurse's office. Only 14% to 15% of the students state that they want to consult with the school nurse. It appears that many students want to make use of the nurse's office for rest and relaxation at school.

We studied the relationships between reasons for visits and the frequency of visits. According to Table 37, students who frequently visit the nurse's office want to talk to the school nurse about physical problems or minor problems. For some students, the nurse's office is a place where they feel safe and secure.

2. Image of the Nurse's Office and Types of School Nurses

The atmosphere in the nurse's office varies considerably depending on the personality and enthusiasm of the particular school nurse. Students find the school nurse to be stricter than when they were in elementary school. The management of the nurse's office is related to school policy and, in particular, policies on student guidance. In some cases, students who often visit the nurse's office for a physical reason end up talking about emotional problems and the results of these case studies are discussed later in Chapter 5. This may be related to the image that students have of the nurse's office and the school nurse's openness to students.

Table 38 shows the image that students have of the nurse's office in order of greatest response. Around 60% of the students regard it as a place where they can receive individual care and attention and where they feel comfortable. The lowest percentage, 24.9%, regard it as a place to get advice on problems. With the increase in bullying and school refusal in recent years, school nurses can be expected to engage in some counseling. Nevertheless three-fourths of the students do not regard the nurse's office as a place to receive counseling. It appears that it is easier for students to go to the nurse's office for a physical problem than for straightforward counseling.

Next, we asked if the school nurse knows the names and the grades of the students. As seen in Table 39, almost half of the students think that the nurse knows their name and less than 10% think that she probably does not. While this depends on the size of the school, the results indicate that the school nurse makes an effort to care for each student. Students feel glad to be called by name and this is the first step in creating familiarity with the school nurse.

Table 40 shows the images of the school nurse at the school. While junior high school students do not think of the school nurse as a mother, many students regard the school nurse as cheerful (84.3%), and easy to talk to (69.6%). In addition, it is notable that a high percentage of students do not think the school nurse will scold them about their studies (79.8%). As has been pointed out, the school nurse is distinguished by the fact that she does not evaluate students on the basis of scores or exam results.

Table 40 indicates that 60% of students think that the school nurse is good at listening to their problems. Although not many school nurses are specially trained in counseling, students rate them highly in this respect. It appears that school nurses acquire this skill through experience as they talk to students in the course of their career and that by doing so they function as counselors in a capacity different from the school counselor.

We did not study the content of the problems that students bring up with the school nurse; as such, it is not possible to make any clear statement about their nature. However, students who often visit the nurse's office have a variety of problems and have a stressful home environment and relationships with parents.

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