The increased workload for school nurses due to the COVID-19 pandemic has put an immeasurable strain on our workforce over the past two years. The Maine Department of Education (DOE) will spend the next year providing opportunities to the current workforce of school nurses to build upon their expertise and to promote evidence-based practice in all Maine schools.
As part of funding from the U.S. CDC for COVID-19 Emergency Response, Public Health Crisis Response, Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was awarded $8,861,778 for a two-year period, starting July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2023. This grant requires at least 25% of the award to support school-based health programs, including nurses or other personnel. Maine DHHS in partnership with Maine DOE has partnered to provide opportunities to promote continued development of the current school nurse workforce. Emphasis on school nursing workforce development strengthens quality of health services within schools. This, in turn, allows for improved equity in care, and further supports the CDC Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model, allowing students to reach their highest health potential.
The Maine DOE’s school health workforce development efforts began with securing four School Nurse Regional Liaisons working within the Coordinated School Health Team of the Office of School and Student Supports. They will be ensuring that school nurses across the state have equal access to the opportunities for development. The following opportunities will be rolled out in the next school year. To ensure all school nurses receive communications, please be sure that staff information is updated in Neo. The following activities from the Maine DOE will be forthcoming.
- With the goal of increasing the number of nationally certified school nurses in Maine (up to 50), the Maine DOE will provide scholarships to qualified school nurses for the exam fee and review course, if needed. In addition, a facilitated study group will be created and available to those approved to participate. Once the application form is created, communications will be sent to school nurses through the DOE Maine School Nurse announcement listserv.
- With the goal of increasing the number of school nurses seeking advanced degrees (up to 25), the Maine DOE will provide scholarships to qualified school nurses to enroll in graduate-level courses (increasing the number of nurses with advanced degrees), to be paid as tuition reimbursement to the individual with successful completion of a graduate-level nursing, public health, or education-focused course. Once the application form is created, communications will be sent to school nurses through the DOE Maine School Nurse announcement listserv.
- With the goal of increasing the number of school nurses who hold certification in Pediatric Emergency Assessment, Recognition, and Stabilization (PEARS) the Maine DOE will provide an in-person course for school nurses in at least four locations across the State of Maine at no cost (up to 100 school nurses). Once the dates are secured, qualified school nurses may register through the DOE Professional Development
To be eligible for these opportunities, school nurses must meet the eligibility requirements for each individual activity, be employed full-time in a Maine school for at least one year and hold a current 524 professional endorsement from the Maine Department of Education.
For more information contact DOESchoolandStudentSupports@Maine.gov.