CDC grant to cover School Nurse Scholars program

Juliann Sebastian, PhD

Juliann Sebastian, PhD

The University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing has been awarded a $915,163 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention subcontract through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for its new School Nurse Scholars (SNS) program, which addresses the urgent nursing shortage in Nebraska schools.

Nursing students will have the chance to be placed at K-12 schools across the state of Nebraska and be exposed to a broad overview of public health issues at the local level. While in the program, students will participate in a comprehensive program including needs assessments, school testing, health education and additional support to keep the general population safe. In addition, students will be able to attend seminars and trainings offered by DHHS throughout their enrollment.

“Many Nebraska schools, especially small and rural districts, may have to depend on volunteer nurses,” said Wendy Wells, a nursing instructor at the UNMC College of Nursing West Nebraska Division. “Having more nursing students pursue school nursing as their specialty will help communities not only with infectious diseases but with all the other benefits a school nurse can provide. Nurses can conduct school screenings and review immunization records, as well as provide mental health services, health education, direct care, referrals, and so much more.”

The SNS program will be accessible to 25 nursing students across all five UNMC campuses at no cost beginning in the spring semester of 2023. The four-semester program will offer students real-world experience in a school health setting through coursework and clinical hours.

“This program will be in addition to students’ semester workload and is above and beyond their normal curriculum,” said Lisa Walters, a clinical instructor at the UNMC College of Nursing Northern Division. “I think their willingness to participate in the program shows the dedication they will have to this potential career opportunity in the future.”

Students will focus on the specifics of school-age nursing in four, one-credit-hour scholar classes over the course of spring 2023, summer 2023, fall 2023 and spring 2024 semesters. Funding from the recently approved CDC grant will cover tuition, books and fees. Each student will receive a $1,500 stipend for each semester enrolled, totaling $6,000.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for students to add to their knowledge of school nursing and participate in didactic and clinical learning that provides in-depth knowledge of the needs of children in school settings,” said Juliann Sebastian, PhD, dean of the UNMC College of Nursing. “With so much health care being provided in community-based settings, this allows nursing students to gain additional clinical experience in one such setting. It also allows participating schools to highlight the importance of school health. We are grateful to Nebraska DHHS for making these funds available and working so closely with Nebraska nursing programs to shape this initiative.”

Interested students can click here to apply. Please contact Tyler Szymanski by email or phone at 531-215-9353 for more information on the program or participation.