ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Experts say the need for registered nurses is expected to grow in the coming years, but having enough people to fill those roles continues to be an issue with the nursing shortage hitting our health care facilities and our schools. Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige spoke with a school official who has been working around the shortage.
For the Niskayuna Central School District located in Schenectady County, there’s a total of 11 nurse positions for eight schools. Tim Fowler, Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel Services says, five Niskayuna schools are fully staffed and three are still in need of nurses, “It’s been a challenge, we’re experiencing some of the same challenges that are impacting institutions all across the state which is stemming from the nationwide shortage of school nurses… of nurses in general,” said Fowler.
As a way to alleviate this, the school put out information through their Parent Square app which the community has been responsive to, “We’ve seen folks volunteer to be added to our substitute nurse listing, and our board has been very supportive and creative in terms of where we don’t have enough sub nurses in the area, we’ve been able to supplement that coverage with temp agency support,” said Fowler. He says one reason that could be contributing to lack of school nurses is competition with traveling and hospital nurses making higher salaries, “It’s more about finding folks that are looking to work with. looking perhaps for favorable hours that are more traditional.”
Fowler says one benefit to being a school nurse is that you get to support and work with students of all ages, “Working with the little ones, elementary school nursing… school nurse you are a rockstar. So immediately you’re going to experience a lot of love and being able to support a student in need whether it’s a medical crisis or they’re just frequenting the health office to get their daily medication. Having someone warm and friendly on the other side is so important.”
And when it comes to the overall nursing shortage, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the population surge from the baby boomer generation has led to the highest number of aging patients and a large number of nurses heading for retirement.