ALPENA — The District 4 Health Department has been searching for a new public health nurse for Hillman Community Schools since early January, which has been a challenge for the health department.
The former public health nurse was hired on Oct. 13 but resigned in late December, leaving the school health program with zero staff.
At its July meeting, the Department of Health Board of Directors approved the Hillman School Health Plan, which provides funding to the Department of Health to hire two grant-funded health workers to work in the school district.
The Department of Health has also been looking for a social worker for the health program, but has been unable to find one because the grant was received at the same time as the former nurse was hired.
Kendra Bartz, director of human resources for the health department, said the department hopes to fill the positions by April 1 because the school health plan requires some coverage of Hillman Community Schools.
According to health plan documents, budget revisions may be required if deadlines are not met.
Butts said a major obstacle to attracting more applicants is lower wages.
“We don’t pay anywhere near as much as some other private clinics,” Butts said. “We have a few people applying for registered nurse positions, but it’s more important to find the right person. Public service is a job with heart, and we need to find people who are willing to help these kids.”
According to the NurseJournal.org website, the average hourly wage for registered nurses is $36.51. On Indeed.com, the average hourly wage for social workers is $34.86.
According to information submitted by the Ministry of Health, public health nurse salaries vary based on the nurse’s degree status. Public health nurse positions require an associate’s degree in nursing (although a bachelor’s degree in nursing is preferred) and a license to practice as a registered nurse in the state of Michigan.
For the same position submitted by the health department, the social worker must be fully licensed in the state and have a master’s degree in science, reliable transportation, and one year of preferred experience providing community health pediatric services.
Nurses with an associate’s degree earn $24.48 an hour, increasing to $25.89 after their probationary period. Nurses who earn a bachelor’s degree will receive $25.24 initially and $26.61 after the probationary period.
Social workers will receive $26.44 and $27.54 at the end of the trial period.
In a previous report by The Courant, Health Department Director of Nursing Kelly Girard said public health nurses will help evaluate students with sore throats, possible injuries and other medical issues. Social workers will assist students who need mental health support.
Girard said mental health support is currently available at Hillman School, but she hopes the health department and social workers can improve the situation.
Anyone considering submitting a resume and cover letter should send it to Kendra Bartz at [email protected].