School Nurse Shortage

By: Tina Stein
By: Tina Stein

They bandage our kids knees...give out ice packs...and issue students' medications. But a recent shortage in school nurses is adding pressure to several schools in the Stateline.

Lunch time is the busiest hour of Michelle Schobinger's day. Not only does she check for fevers and sore throats...but she's also responsible for serving lunch to several handicapped students... through a feeding tube.

"It's a hard job...you can make a lot more money doing other things that you don't have to put forth efforts you do in nursing," says substitute nurse Michele Schobinger.

Schobinger is one of only three substitute nurses treating students in the Rockford District's 52 schools. Currently...the District is short five part-timers...and lacks one full-time nurse of the full compliment of 28. And with the nationwide nursing shortage...some say it's even harder to find ones qualified to work in the schools.

"You really have to have a love of children...a patience of children...a tolerance of the business of it because it can be very hectic," says Health Services Supervisor Mary Fisher.

Mary Fisher asked the school board to give her subs a pay raise. She got what she wanted. Nursing subs now get 20-dollars an hour...up from about 12 dollars in the past.

"My hope is that we could get some of the stay at home moms that are nurses who choose to work around their child's school schedule to get out of the house and maybe entice them to work in the profession," Fisher says.

Fisher says she's actively searching for more school nurses....and hopes to have positions filled by next semester.

If you're interested in working as a school nurse...you must be a registered nurse...complete a ten-week internship and a certification course.

School nurses do make less cash than others in the health care industry. She says they're on a teacher's salary...which starts at 25-thousand dollars. Hospital nurses earn an average of 45-thousand dollars.


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