Minnesota Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools - May 2005

(Updated: September 2005)

Maternal and Child Health Section graphic of an outline of a parent with a child in the middle of the outline of Minnesota.


For the SNOM Newsletter - April 2005

Minnesota Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools - April 2005

The Minnesota Department of Health has just released the Minnesota Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools. You will find the full text at: www.health.state.mn.us/divs/cfh/shs/pubs/medadmin/

The goal of the guidelines is to increase the safe administration of medications to students in schools. Along with safety issues, medication administration is a learning readiness issue. Many children who have chronic and/or acute health conditions can attend school because of the effectiveness of their prescribed medications(s). Student access to medication while at school, to appropriately treat illness, acute or chronic, enhances attendance and reduces a potential barrier to educational success.

About 13 million children in kindergarten through 12th grade take medication in any two-week time period, according to a study by Ann Maria McCarthy, an associate professor at the University of Iowa. Most common are AD/HD medications, followed by over-the-counter and asthma medications, respectively. In another study, looking at changes in medication in schools, McCarthy found that students were taking about 200 different kinds of medications in 2003, up from the 58 found in a late 1980s study [1].

The guidelines are intended for school districts, school boards, principals, health educators, school nurses, health paraprofessionals, parents, and students themselves. They outline what needs to be in place for the safe administration of prescription and nonprescription medications in schools and include the following:

  • What every parent and student in Minnesota can expect regarding safe administration of medications in schools.
  • Guiding principles and resources for school districts to consider when developing, reviewing and revising medication policies and procedures.
  • A safe and appropriate approach to administering medications to students for conditions such as asthma, diabetes, seizure conditions, allergies (food and environmental), cystic fibrosis, ADHD, short-term illness or infections, wherever they are in school or on field trips, etc.

A collaborative process from the beginning, the Medication Administration Guidelines State Interagency Staff Team was established and met regularly to direct this project. This statewide multidisciplinary work group included members from the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the Minnesota Board of Nursing, and various advocacy groups.

A broad search and rigorous evaluation of pertinent literature was conducted for the Minnesota Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools and it included a review of standards and guidelines from numerous states. While the guidelines are supported by evidence, every effort was also made to include expert opinion based on practice.

To download the guidelines, visit the Minnesota Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools at:

You will note on the tool bar on the left, that you can print either the entire document (and that option exists with or without all appendices), or just various sections of the document. There have been some reports that those users with Adobe Acrobat version 5 have had difficulty downloading the document. There are instructions on the website on where to go for the latest Adobe version.

Also available on the toolbar is a link called “Toolkit.” In here you will find press releases, language announcing the guidelines that can be used within newsletters and listservs, slides for presentations, and other resource materials.

Should you have any questions about the website or the materials there, please contact Cheryl Smoot at: cheryl.smoot@health.state.mn.us or 651-281-9961.

Should you have any questions about the guidelines themselves, please contact the following people:

Contact information:

Mariclaire England
Minnesota Board of Nursing
Phone: 612-617-2274
Email: mariclaire.england@state.mn.us

Ruth Ellen Luehr
Minnesota Department of Education
Phone: 651-582-8403
Email: ruthellen.luehr@state.mn.us

Colleen Olson
Minnesota Department of Human Services
Phone: 651-282-6648
Email: colleen.olson@state.mn.us

Cheryl Smoot
Minnesota Department of Health
Phone: 651-281-9961
Email: cheryl.smoot@health.state.mn.us


1. Vail, Kathleen. “The Medicated Child.” American School Board Journal, March 2005 Special Reports. http://www.asbj.com/specialreports/0305SpecialReports/S1.html