Maryland lawmakers push making nurses permanent in public schools
MARYLAND – “It’s even I would say essential that a nurse be placed in every school,” Maryland Nursing Association’s Dr. Charlotte Wood said.
Senate Bill 856 could make that a reality in Maryland public schools if it becomes law. “Many of our schools do not have a nurse on the premises at all times. She might be there one day a week or half a day a week depending on the size of the school district,” Maryland Senator Addie Eckardt said.
“There are some areas and regions that have nurses that are responsible for a multitude of schools from elementary schools, middle schools, and even your high schools,” Dr. Woods said.
In Dorchester County, health officials say they currently use a combination of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in their school system with support form the local health department and board of education.
Currently, health experts say recruiting nurses is tough across the entire health care industry. “It’s a short market supply out there and it’s hard for us to be competitive with the salaries,” Dorchester County Health Department Health Officer Roger Harrell said. “Not to say, the amount of money the school board would have to come up with to put into the program.”
Despite this, those with the Maryland Nursing Association say the role could be appealing to many depending on their current life situation. “Our nurses who are moving into the phase of their work life where they’re considering retiring, a school nurse position may be a position that’s less taxing,” Dr. Woods said.
“It’s not a year round job with us so that’s why sometimes we were able to recruit nurses because they had the summer off,” Harrell said.
The Dorchester County Health Department says they have experienced struggles with filling positions in the past and had to contact outside resources like talent agencies for staffing needs.
We’re also told that across the state some districts offer school-based wellness centers that provide additional health personnel on the premises.
Health experts add this move would not only give students exposure to the profession of nursing, but allow students the opportunity to discuss things with a professional that they aren’t comfortable speaking about with a parent.