MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Several school districts across Wisconsin are currently hiring school nurses for the upcoming school year.
School nurses are vital in the education system, but currently there is no law in Wisconsin that requires school districts to have nurses.
“We have students who are in school that have tube feedings, diabetes that need to have management, that are at risk from having a seizure, that are at risk from dying in front of our eyes from an anaphylactic reaction,” said Louise Wilson, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction School Nurse Consultant. “So we need people who understand and are trained to recognize that and that there’s healthcare plans.”
Overtime school RN positions have been eliminated or made into part-time positions.
“They have oftentimes been cut, their positions have been cut because of educational dollars," continued Wilson.
However, the pandemic is making some school districts in Wisconsin reconsider.
“Here we have a public health crisis so it’s all about health but now we’re taking that and trying to figure out how to do education in the midst of a public health crisis,” said Wilson. “The people best equipped to do that are school nurses.”
The longtime school nurse and consultant is doing everything to support those interested in starting this career path.
“If there were people that really wanted to know about it again I could send them resources or help them,” she said.
While salary can be different for school nurses than for those in other specialties, there are advantages that make it the ideal job for some.
“I’m hoping there will be nurses out there, really intelligent, driven nurses who say you know that’s the specialty for me. I understand its independent and you have a lot of autonomy, you get to work with kids and that’s something I’d like to do,” shared Wilson.
Moving forward Wilson would also like to see another change in the school nurse field.
“Our demographics of who is a school nurse doesn’t reflect who are students are, so we would love to see more school nurses of color and and varied backgrounds, so they really reflect the population of students that they serve,” said Wilson.
For now, she will continue to push for existing and new school nurses to be given the value their profession deserves.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction will be holding a free virtual school nurse orientation for Registered Nurses in early October. Those interested in learning more about this profession can get started here.