Addressing a Dire Shortage

Vicki Taliaferro

School Nurse Consultant

Vicki feels that being a school nurse consultant is exciting because it combines many principles of nursing practice.

Chief among them is the safety of the students she serves. “Our guiding principle is ensuring the safety of our students.” However, Vicki sees challenges “every day due to limited resources available to provide nursing services and teaching that is needed.”

Vicki focuses her work on largely on workforce issues that include school nurse awareness to the lack of funding available to provide an adequate number of nurses in all communities in Michigan. “The ratio of nurses to students in Michigan does not align with the national recommendations. In many communities there are no nurses; in others there are too few. ”

Vicki noted that a time-intense need is the mental/behavioral needs of students. She reported that a study done by The National Association of School Nurses found that roughly 30% of the time school nurses spend with students focused on mental/behavioral health issues. On the positive side Vicki noted that “school nurses have adapted in many ways through innovations and camaraderie.”

She knows that school nurses are accustomed to practicing independently and thinking both critically and creatively, saying “They are accustomed to critically assessing a need, prioritizing and using available resources to employ the best practice for immediate need of their students and their families.”