I am very disgusted with the salary and recognition paid to nurses in the school setting. When I was first offered the job in June (and they called me, I didn't call them) it was for 13.44 an hour!!!! I had to laugh. They obviously could not find an RN to leave their $20some /hr positions to come to the school (no matter how awesome the school calendar is). They eventually did call back and meet my initial "I'll settle for this meager pay for the convenience the job offers my mommy lifestyle" salary request. Since taking the job, I have been blown away by the lack of respect and understanding the school nurse receives in this world of teachers. Don't get me wrong, everyone is very nice. However, it's when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it that you find out that you hold the same level on the "food chain" as the classroom aides, cafeteria girls, and secretaries. Even the janitor's and bus drivers are paid substantially more than the nurse. Once, a memo was sent out for all "professional staff" to attend a meeting in the conference room. When I showed up, everyone just sort of stared and then someone spoke up and said "Oh you don't need to be here, this is for the professional staff, you know the certified staff. I apologized and quietly left even though I was screaming inside.
It truly is a huge change from the medical acute floor I had been working on, in more ways than one. I went from being a highly respected and valued staff member to a position where my knowledge and education are not valued or understood. I am not even considered a nurse because I do not hold a special certificate stating that I am a school nurse, but rather am titled school health aide!!!!!! It blows me away. 7 years pediatric acute and clinic experience and 9+ years medical acute experience is not enough to be considered a nurse in a school setting????
What can we do?? Stand up. Be heard. Continually educate your peers. Be active in the union and school board meetings. Get involved in classroom health teaching to students and staff. Obtain the certificate that will allow you to be titled a "nurse" in the school (not worth it for me as there is no pay correlation with this certificate in my district).
However, the very real possibility remains that even after you have done all of the above, nothing will change. This is partly due to the non-healthcare atmosphere that you work in, as well as the non-acute nature of the job. To quote one very well meaning teacher, "you are our resident mom...kisser of small boo-boos."