University of Iowa researcher adapts technology to help school nurses

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 10:28 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - A team of University of Iowa researchers is adapting technology used in hospitals to help school nurses.

The Electronic School Medication Administration Record, or eSMAR system, is designed to prevent medication errors in schools and track medication use. The team is led by College of Nursing Associate Professor Amany Farag. She says the goal is to intercept potential mistakes before they reach students.

This year, the system is being pilot-tested in the Iowa City Community School district.

“Any kind of any strategies we can put in place to help to help with the safety of medication administration is just a benefit to all schools,” says District Health Services Manager Jessica Jimmerson.

Jimmerson says Iowa City’s 22 school nurses on staff are busy- with more than 100,000 documented visits last year. And it’s a critical position not just in schools, but in the community. “They’re trying to bridge that gap between education and health services throughout the community, so there’s students that don’t have health insurance and they’re trying to find resources to get them to the needed medical care... Our goal is to keep students in school and students can’t learn if they’re not healthy,” says Jimmerson.

Farag says many school districts do not have the resources to have a school nurse in every building, all the time. She says this user-friendly system is designed to help in those situations, when other staff members may need to help give students medication.

The goal is to take the system statewide after testing, to help schools across Iowa. Farag says it has the potential to be useful in other situations as well, including long-term care facilities, college dormitories, and prisons.