How much schooling should school nurses be required to have? Gina Dennik-Champion, executive director of the Wisconsin Nurses Association said a four year degree makes sense, given the challenges faced by the typical school nurse. She said two year degrees have their place, but don’t provide adequate preparation for school nursing. “It’s only a two year program,” Dennik-Champion told the state Senate Education Committee. “How much can you expect to throw at a nursing student? There is a difference.” She noted that other school professionals — teachers, principals and social workers — have four year degrees.
But Nancy Vrabeck, associate dean of nursing at Milwaukee Area Technical College, says two year grads are well prepared. “We teach extremely rigorous nursing courses . . . and we do it in two years,” Vrabeck told committee members. “And our students actually pass the licensure exam at a higher percentage than baccalaureate graduates.”
The Department of Public Instruction is recommending new rules that would require a four year degree for school nurses. The Senate committee held a public hearing on the proposed rules, and at least one committee member was highly critical. State Senator Glenn Grothman, a West Bend Republican, believes local school administrators ought to be able to consider applicants with both degrees. “See who’s got more common sense, see who’s got a better work ethic, and higher that person, rather than just saying ‘forget it, no one with a two year tech school degree is qualified to be a school nurse. That is offensive snobbery,” said Grothman.