Lower salaries make school nurse positions hard to fill
CHRISTAN M. THOMAS
Jan 10, 2007 at 8:15 AM
With all the bonuses, incentives and high pay rates offered by hospitals to recruit nurses, there is one area of vital recruitment need that struggles to keep up - finding school nurses.
"All you have to do is pick up the (news) paper and look at the salaries and the bonuses that are offered for people or extra amenities that are offered for people to come to work for other agencies other than the school system, and we can't compete with that," said Vicki Johnston a registered nurse and nursing supervisor for Kingsport City Schools. "We don't have that to offer."
KCS is currently recruiting RNs and LPNs for school positions. Starting salary in the Kingsport school system for RNs is $17,477 and $11.15 per hour for LPNs, though Johnston said salaries range widely depending on the school system.
According to Edweek, the average salary for school nurses in public school systems nationwide was $39,651 in the 2006-2007 school year. The Edweek data did not specifically track starting salaries.
Without all the bells and whistles that go along with hospital recruiting, Johnston said the decision to become a school nurse must really be based on lifestyle and not finance.
And there certainly are perks to the job.
School nurses, Johnston said, work a regular school schedule - an average of 182 school days a year and 7.5 hours per day. With working the school schedule, nurses are also able to take holidays off, a luxury not afforded to many hospital staff.
"One of the biggest selling points in attracting a nurse to a school system is the hours - the hours working and the actual time off," Johnston said. "This would be comparing us to hospital work or really to any other paradigm of the health care system. ... Typically the (school) nurses are parents who want to have time off with their children.
"But it has become more difficult for us to get nurses into the school system."