LINCOLN, Neb. – The nursing program at Northeast Community College is one of three in the state to share $3.6 million to assist school districts who are experiencing a shortage of nurses in school settings.
Utilizing work-study opportunities for students in Nebraska state-approved nursing programs, the COVID-19 Crisis Response Workforce Cooperative Agreement awarded the funding to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide nursing support to any K-12 school expressing a need and expand the Nebraska public health workforce.
One of the school-based health programs being funded through the agreement is the Nebraska Nursing Student School Health Initiative. Through the program, nursing students will be placed in K-12 schools across the state of Nebraska. Over the course of one or several semesters, they will be exposed to a broad overview of public health issues at the local level. Nursing students will also participate in a comprehensive program including needs assessments, school testing, health education, and adding support to keep the general population safe. In addition, students will be able to attend seminars and trainings offered by DHHS throughout their enrollment.
“Nurses are a critical part of our public health workforce," said Dr. Matthew Donahue, state epidemiologist and acting chief medical officer. “By providing opportunities for nursing students across the state to learn valuable skills within public schools before they graduate, we are able to enrich their learning experience and expose them to a setting they may not have previously considered for their future careers."
The goal of the Nebraska Nursing Student School Health Initiative is to develop a pipeline program to place nursing students and graduate nurses not currently working in school health settings. It is designed to support the health and well-being of students and families while providing an opportunity for nursing students to gain real-world experience in a school health setting. It will also provide student nurses an opportunity to experience a different work setting and potentially lead to a job upon graduation.
Northeast is the only community college nursing program selected to receive the funding. Other programs in the initiative include the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Methodist College. Students will be in local schools located in seven different geographic regions across the state during the spring 2023 semester. In subsequent semesters, more nursing programs and K-12 schools will have an opportunity to participate in the program.
“The Northeast nursing program is excited to offer the School Nurse Scholars program as we have six students who have been accepted,” said Dr. Karen Weidner, director of nursing programs at Northeast. “Our nursing students will be collaborating with school nurses at Norfolk Public Schools, Madison Public Schools, Bancroft-Rosalie Schools, and Walthill Schools. We are pleased to be able to assist in meeting their workforce needs as it relates to student health.”
For more information about the Nebraska Nursing Student School Health Initiative or other Nebraska school-based health programs, visit the DHHS website at dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Nursing-Student-School-Health-Initiative.aspx. For those interested in participating in the initiative, contact Kelli Makerson, DHHS program manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.