The V.I. Education Department is striving to recruit more school nurses to meet a growing shortage in the territory, advertising across the district and trying to recruit retirees and newly licensed nurses, according to Education officials.
A think tank of representatives from the V.I. Board of Nurse Licensure and the V.I. Departments of Education and Health met early Monday morning to put together an action plan to recruit nurses.
The nursing shortage hit its peak in both districts during the 2012-13 school year, with several employees opting to either take advantage of the government’s early retirement initiative or to move from the schools to local hospitals and clinics or facilities abroad, according to a statement from Education. (See related links below)
On Monday, Acting Education Commissioner Donna Frett-Gregory, Education Department Human Resources Director Zenzile Hodge and Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett looked at ways of recruiting new applicants, but also at targeting retired nurses who are able to “hit the ground running” when school starts up again in the fall.
Education has advertised on radio and in print, on social media and in employment websites, and Hodge said Monday that the next step would be organizing an informational session within the next two weeks for potential applicants.
Education is working with the Board of Nurse Licensure, whose members agreed Monday to help recruit from within their own pool of retired professionals and licensure applicants, the department said.
“We will also work with the nursing board in the coming months to develop a ‘school nurse model’ that supports the needs within our schools,” Frett-Gregory added after the meeting. “The nursing shortage we’re experiencing has been a major challenge since last school year, and the department is poised to take the necessary steps to make sure our students’ health issues are taken care of.”