(WGHP) — The 2023 North Carolina child health report card gave the state a big red “F” for school health, citing a severe lack of school nurses.
The majority of schools in NC do not have a full-time nurse on site, instead, many split their time between multiple schools.
The ideal nurse-to-student ratio is one nurse per 750 students. NC averages one nurse per every 1,007.
“Nursing…a failing grade. Last year for school nursing, we were at a ‘D.’ We’re at an ‘F’ this time in 2023,” said Mary Lou Collett, director of nursing at the Davidson County Health Department.
The failure is statewide but felt heavily in Davidson County, which ranks second worst statewide.
One nurse single-handedly serves four to six schools there. Districts are feeling the strain across our area.
Alamance County has five openings, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has 11, Guilford County Schools has four openings posted, but Davidson County only has one opening.
Openings don’t tell the whole story. There aren’t enough funded positions. School nurses say the dwindling numbers come down to dollars.
“Our pay is not equitable to hospital nurses,” said Shelly Klutz, president of the School Nursing Association of North Carolina.
Klutz says most NC school nurses make roughly $24 an hour.
“When you offer school nurses that, they usually walk away from it because you can go into a hospital and make a lot more,” she said.
The school nursing association is lobbying state and local officials for more money and more positions and also asking nursing grads to consider a career helping students.