26 July 2010

Putting Nurses in Local Schools


Nurses searching for a job may start looking somewhere besides hospitals, and that could benefit your children.

In all of the Calhoun County school districts, there are only two schools with full-time nurses, but that's about to change.

Statewide the school nursing shortage is sobering.

“In the State of Michigan we have roughly one nurse for 7,000 students,” said Jim Rutherford, Calhoun Co. Health Dept. “We need to catch up.”

In Calhoun County, the numbers aren't as bad as they are statewide. Officials estimate the ratio there to be about 4,000 students for every one school nurse.

That's primarily due to school budgets, where dwindling funds have forced some districts to eliminate the school nurse altogether, while other districts have one school nurse that travels to all the schools in that district.

Teachers and secretaries are generally the ones who pick up the medical slack.

“For teachers and secretaries to be asked to do that is impossible,” said Theresa Dawson of KCC School of Nursing.

Now, the Calhoun County Health Department is one of three health departments in the State of Michigan that part of a one-year, $300,000 pilot program to place school nurses in every one of the county's elementary, middle, and high schools.

“This may be the only option where this may be the only health care these kids are getting,” said Rutherford.

While placing a nurse in every school in Calhoun County may sound like a big feat, Kellogg Community College is also taking on the cause and will be rotating their 140 students pursuing a nursing degree into area schools in 2011.

“Our intention is to have all our student nurses spending time in the schools,” said Dawson.

The health department plans to hire a half dozen nurses to be placed in schools by 2011.

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