Should school nurse receive extra pay for mandated camp nurse duty?

Dear Nurse Beth Advice Column - The following letter submitted anonymously in search for answers. Join the conversation! Nurses Nurse Beth Nursing Q/A


My school goes on 5 day camp at the beginning of each school year. 3 days with freshman and 2 days with seniors. Next year they are making it mandatory that the school nurse goes . That's 24 hour responsibility . They are not sure if compensation will change since they don't want to pay Nurse "while she is sleeping " even if she's on call. I do not feel comfortable with 24 hour duty x 3-5 days , no other Nurse, and no extra pay. Your thoughts?

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

I firmly believe you should receive extra compensation. To require a Registered Nurse to be on call for free is outrageous.

Do they or do they not want you to be available at night? Trust me, you will be awakened at night in a camp full of teenagers.

In addition to 24/7 call, you will have an increased workload, potential for hazardous situations, a high level of responsibility, and additional personal liability. 

  • Express your concerns about the 24-hour duty and inquire about the compensation policy during these times. Ask whether there is a possibility for additional compensation or adjustments to your regular salary.
  • Policy review. Review the school's policies and employee handbook and your job description to see if there are any existing guidelines related to compensation during extended duty hours or on-call responsibilities.

  • Negotiate terms. If the school is unwilling to provide additional compensation, consider negotiating other terms, such as compensatory time off or a flexible schedule following the extended duty period.

  • Professional boundaries. Communicate your boundaries and limitations regarding extended hours of duty. Discuss how fatigue and lack of sleep can affect your ability to provide optimal care.
  • Consult colleagues. Discuss your concerns with other school nurses or healthcare professionals to gather insights and advice on how they handle similar situations.

  • Legal implications. Familiarize yourself with local labor laws and regulations. Some states have specific requirements regarding compensation for on-call duties.
  • Consider your well-being. Prioritize your well-being and make decisions that align with your comfort level and professional standards. If the conditions are not reasonable, evaluating whether this is a sustainable arrangement for you may be necessary.

    Remember that open communication is crucial in resolving such matters. Approach the discussion professionally and seek mutually beneficial solutions. If necessary, consult with a human resources representative or seek advice from legal professionals specializing in employment law. Consult your union rep if you are in a union.

I give you my best wishes and hope you will consider posting in the School Nurse forum here online.

Nurse Beth