December 22, 2020

School Nurses Connect Health And Education. COVID-19 Could Drive Some Off The Job

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
School nurses say their work this year has been consumed by helping schools and their communities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, adding even more stress to an already wide-ranging position. - FILE PHOTO: WFIU/WTIU

School nurses say their work this year has been consumed by helping schools and their communities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, adding even more stress to an already wide-ranging position.

FILE PHOTO: WFIU/WTIU

Indiana's school nurses are facing more demands than ever this year, as they help students, their families, and educators navigate the pandemic, but some are feeling burnt out after months of high-intensity work.

School nurses are experts on a wide-range of things, from allergic reactions and vaccines to how to respond to health emergencies and handle specific medical needs of individual students. But this year, school nurses have been first responders to COVID-19 too, answering quarantine questions and helping with contact tracing in schools. 

Indiana Association of School Nurses President Joy Sunday worries some of them won't come back.

"I know 100 percent of the nurses that I have interviewed are second-guessing what they are doing," she said. 

READ MORE: How Will Indiana Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines? Here's What You Need To Know

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Sunday says school nurses are paid significantly less than hospital nurses and aren't always recognized for their work, and that makes recruitment difficult as hospitals offer significantly higher pay. 

Many hospitals and retirement homes are offering hundreds of dollars in sign-on bonuses as the number COVID-19 cases in Indiana and throughout the country continue to rise. 

"You can work half the amount of days in a hospital or clinics or nursing homes for the amount you are making in a school nursing position," Sunday said.

Sunday said school nurses' expertise and relationships with families are vital for schools, and that it's critical for school leaders and community members to understand the scale and scope of what they do.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

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