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OpinionLetters

School nurses often overworked, underpaid

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I was happy to finally read an article about school nurses [“Nurses for modern times,” LI Life, Oct. 13].

However, there was no mention of the workload of the high school nurse, which includes state-mandated immunizations, physicals and screenings, sports clearances three times a year and assessments of students with emotional needs. Daily, we perform emergency-room triage — the aftermath of fights, children and adults with chest pains, broken bones, head injuries and drug overdoses.

In my school, Sachem North High School, there are two nurses for 2,250 students and no clerical help. On a given day, an elementary school nurse working alone might see 90 students and staff members. At professional meetings, other school nurses tell me that such workloads lead to burnout; they seek to retire early or look for work in other settings.

Many nurses in my district have been or are critical-care nurses for which there is a lack of compensation for that level of expertise. Our salaries are considerably less than teachers’. I hold a bachelor of science in nursing from Molloy College, with 35 years of experience as well as managerial experience. Yet, after 15 years in my district, I am paid $69,000 a year, while a teacher with the same time in could earn nearly twice as much.

Dorothy Farrell,

Holtsville

Editor’s note: The writer is a past president of the Sachem Central Nurses Association, a labor union.

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