School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: 1:4700


Liz Pray, MSN-Ed, RN, NCSN, President of the School Nurse Organization of Washington has an update for us! As many have read, Liz shared her breaking point when she was called to respond to an emergency with an unresponsive three-year-old. But Liz was nowhere near the school because she covers five buildings and was on the other side of town. She reached her “enough is enough” moment and reached out to Washington State Superintendent Reykdal to make a final plea. Liz not only had an “ask,” she had a plan of action to share. 
In the original post, Liz shared the letter that she wrote to the State Superintendent. The state lobbyist read the letter as well and invited Liz to testify before the Senate Ways & Means Committee the very next day. The committee was hearing testimony for their 2021-2022 operating budget. 1:4700 is the current staffing ratio to fund school nurses in Washington State. 
Here is the update from Liz: 
Superintendent Reykdal asked for a list of things that school nurses had been doing since the start of COVID.  We actually talked on the phone last Monday before the incident with the preschooler.  He is hopefully taking those bullet points and using them during his next webinar.  We are hoping that while we still fight for changes to the prototypical model that districts will at least take some of the federal money to support nursing.   When we talked on the phone we did brainstorm some ideas on how to get our members heard or get them air time as he called it.
In trying to find a way to get our members air time or open the door for them to ask for more help I have tried to reach out to the president and regional director of the state school board. The regional director is the one from my area and our school board president suggested we take that path.  Even though she and I had a good meeting last week nursing seems to always take a back seat to everything else.  I tried to reach out to the regional PTA person and did not get a response.  The list of things that our members have been doing was also shared with the unions.
When the email and list were shared with our lobbyists they signed me up to testify Friday afternoon in front of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  Our ask this year was to fund school nurses by including changes to the prototypical model along with increased funding for the School Nurse Corp.  It looks like the School Nurse Corp is getting an amendment into the budget after Friday.  Nothing on the prototypical model??  Currently, we are funded at 1:4700ish and the changes would bring us to around 1:673 over a couple of years.  
My reaction to the news so far? Reckless comes to mind because the safety of our students, staff, and even ourselves is not seen by anyone in the k-12 world.  Disappointed would be another one because it is a fight we have been fighting for too long.
The incident just fuels the passion to fight a fight that we should not have to fight.  One that in a global health pandemic should be a no-brainer for anyone to see that School Nurses should be put at the forefront in order to safely get our students back in the seats.  We should be funded like we are in a health pandemic in 2021 not in a 40-year-old antiquated staffing model.
Thank you,
Liz Pray MSN-Ed, RN, NCSN
Moses Lake SD School Nurse
President, School Nurse Organization of WA
You can watch Liz’s testimony by clicking here. Her brief, but powerful statement is introduced at 43:45. 


Here is a transcript of Liz’s testimony:

Madam Chair and Members of the Committee, my name is Liz Pray I am the President of the School Nurse Organization of Washington and a school nurse in Moses Lake. As President of the School Nurse Organization of Washington, I do not understand why we cannot get legislators help in investing more funding in school nurses especially now. The burden of school reopening is squarely on school nurses. In many schools, one school nurse is the entire COVID Response Team to ensure that students and staff are safe. School nurses are also mental health providers along with school counselors. Yesterday, as everyone was waiting to hear the Governor’s announcement on school guidance changes, I was trying to calculate the fastest route to a school across town while I prayed the ambulance was not held up trying to respond to an unresponsive 3 year old. I was covering five school buildings at the time. Enough is enough! We need your help now. School nurses need to be funded at a level equivalent to a health pandemic in 2021 not a 40 year old antiquated funding model. Thank you.

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