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Thursday, September 16, 2021
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Where Are All the School Nurses?

Did you understand that hundreds of thousands of scholars on this nation wouldn’t have entry to a faculty nurse in the event that they expertise a medical emergency? This has turn into a serious concern as colleges reopen for in-person studying throughout the pandemic. A faculty nurse scarcity is just not a brand new downside, however our present scenario has actually amplified the want. Let’s take a better have a look at the concern and what our group of academics has to say.

U.S. college nurse scarcity is dire

The extremely transmissible delta COVID variant continues to unfold and create spikes in instances throughout the nation. At the identical time, lecture rooms are packed whereas mother and father and directors struggle over masks mandates and vaccine necessities. Back in the spring, some even feared that the college nurse scarcity might make reopening colleges tough.

Once thought-about important employees, the position of the college nurse has turn into much less sure. This is regardless of the undeniable fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one full-time nurse in each college. According to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), at the very least 35 % of faculty nurses are employed solely part-time, whereas 25 % of faculties don’t even have one.

What does this imply for the common household? If a toddler experiences a medical emergency, the scenario will likely be dealt with by personnel with little to no medical coaching. In rural colleges with restricted entry to emergency medical companies and hospitals, college nurse shortages are extra frequent. Just like every thing else proper now, the pandemic has made this downside a lot worse.

Caught between mother and father and politicians

School nurses have been very busy throughout the pandemic. One NASN survey from April 2020 confirmed that at the very least 78 % studied the information on COVID-19 an infection tendencies, and 43 % used that info to replace and create college well being insurance policies. Nearly half additionally stated they hung out answering cellphone calls and questions from involved mother and father and the group.

Despite their position in protecting colleges and youngster care packages secure and open for in-person studying, many are actually unemployed. Some colleges have stated they don’t want a faculty nurse. Some had been furloughed throughout digital studying. Others have give up as a result of they really feel the working situations are unsafe—and the hope that this might enhance is dwindling.

When vaccines rolled out final spring, everybody felt hopeful. People had been nonetheless taking preventative measures, and numbers had been dropping. Then, the vaccine efforts plateaued, folks stopped carrying masks, and instances jumped. On prime of that, an extremely contentious warfare started as mother and father and politicians fought over masks mandates, in-person studying, and vaccines. School nurses are caught in the crossfire.

As the solely healthcare skilled in colleges, they’re annoyed to have their steerage dismissed. Without protecting insurance policies in place, many colleges are already in disaster this yr. Many have already switched again to distant studying. To meet the want, some colleges are providing hiring bonuses to draw nurses. Meanwhile, lawmakers have just lately pushed to create the NURSE (Nurses for Under-Resourced Schools Everywhere) Act grant program.

Are academics impacted by the college nurse scarcity?

We polled our personal group of academics about the worsening college nurse scarcity. Their responses spotlight how completely different the scenario might be from one college to the subsequent. Here are a few of the responses:

“What’s a nurse? What does it look like? 👀” —Francesca P.

“Nurse shortage? No, but we have a teacher shortage, and a bus driver shortage, and a custodian shortage, and a cafeteria worker shortage … about the only thing we do have is a nurse.” —Jennifer R.

“I haven’t seen a school with a nurse in 10 years.” —Jennifer C.

“We just have clinic attendants and then nurses at the county level that supervise them. I do not know about all of them, but some of them have some sort of med tech training or nursing.” —Debbie N.

“We use one of the hospitals to fill our positions. We have a contract with the company and they do all the management and staffing.” —Tedrick H.

“Our school has a partnership with the state’s hospital. We have a RN and nurses and students in medical school who come to get their volunteer hours…” —Tia H.

“We have never had a school nurse in all of the years I have been here. That’s 25 years.” —Nikki W.

“A shortage? We have a nurse aide who visits once or twice a week.” —Mary Anne B.

“We have a FT nurse, but sometimes once a week she has to go to another school.” —Jennifer F.

“We’ve never had one here. I keep a first aid kit in my desk to patch up my kids who hurt themselves in PE or woodshop.” —Alex M.

“We have clinic workers instead. Basically office staff that had some additional training.” —Ashley S.

“We only have a nurse on campus 1 day a week. It has been this way for at least 3 years.” —Kathie B.

“Yes! It is so crazy to me! I knew we had a teacher shortage, but now the school nurses as well! We currently have our recently retired RN here because we can’t find anyone new.” —Emily H.

Are you coping with a faculty nurse scarcity? Share your ideas with our group.

#Note-Author Name – Jeanne Croteau

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