Morgan State University Awarded $4.4 Million Contract to Address Nursing Shortage in Baltimore City Public Schools
In Effort to Improve and Enhance Health Services for Students MSU Nursing Dept. to Place Full-time Registered Nurses in Five BCPS Health Suites, Building Pipeline of City School Nurses
BALTIMORE — As public schools across the region face an unprecedented shortage of school nurses, Morgan State University’s School of Community Health and Policy (SCHP) Department of Nursing has been awarded a $4.4 million contract from Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) to provide pediatric nursing services support within health suites at five schools throughout the city. The health services initiative is part of a large-scale, multi-institutional collaborative to source the expertise and professional health services of the leading university nursing programs in Baltimore. The up-to-six-year contract will allow Morgan’s Nursing Department to place five registered nurses at specific BCPS locations in need of services.
Currently, there are 156 school health suites operated within Baltimore City schools, with only 50 school health nurses providing coverage. In addition to alleviating an existing strain on health suite practitioners, the program's impact will be far-reaching. Per the agreement will recruit, hire, and train nurses to serve as leaders and innovators in healthcare with the capabilities to partner with teachers, parents, guardians, and other healthcare providers, helping manage students’ chronic health conditions in the school setting. This collaboration will create healthier schools and communities, allowing students to reach their academic potential.
“As a historically black institution, it means much for us to be able to serve and work with Baltimore City Public School in this moment where health and well-being are taking center stage, knowing the many challenges our students across Baltimore City are facing. This opportunity to expand our relationship with Baltimore City Public Schools, as well as our ongoing collaboration with other universities, allows us to address a critical need within city public schools while preparing our students for real-life learning experiences,” said Kim Sydnor, Ph.D., dean of School of Community Health and Policy. “In addition to placing highly-trained graduates where they can serve the community, our goal is also to provide learning opportunities and career exposure for our matriculating nursing students while inspiring high school students interested in studying the field.”
Historically, BCPS worked with the Baltimore City Health Department to provide health suite services in schools staffed by nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). In 2021, with the passing of landmark legislation, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, comprehensive changes to Maryland’s public education system were introduced, which included staff-based health suites in Maryland schools to require a registered nurse (RN). However, a national nursing shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic created significant staffing challenges. According to the American Hospital Association, federal data shows that 500,000 nurses will leave the profession this year, bringing the shortage to 1.1 million.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) recommend having at least one registered nurse for every 750 students in every school. This initiative will provide specific city schools with monthly nursing coverage at a 95% fulfillment rate.
Additionally, Morgan is also currently exploring expanding its relationship with BCPS to allow rising nursing students to augment their skills by using the school health suites as clinical training sites. When finalized, the agreement will allow Morgan to assign up to 50 nursing students to specific locations to complete their clinical rotations. BCPS would work with the university to develop the infrastructure to support clinical training and provide opportunities for evaluation that can be used to create best practices for school health services expanding across city schools and beyond.
“We are excited to partner with Baltimore City Public Schools to develop a plan that will improve outcomes by staffing School Health Suites with an RN,” said Maija Anderson, DNP, APRN, FNE-A/P, associate professor and chair of the Department of Nursing at Morgan. “Evidence demonstrates that healthier schools result in healthier communities. We are committed to doing our part by staffing the health suites and immersing our nursing students in clinical experiences at these sites. Ultimately, the goal is to increase the number of our graduates interested in working as school health nurses.”
The collaboration between Morgan and BCPS will expand school health services by offering enhanced care and improving services to students with disabilities or complex medical needs. To create a system of care that works with the family and school communities, nursing students will be trained in alignment with the NASN Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice. NASN training for nursing students includes trauma-informed care to address illnesses, injuries, first aid, and follow-up for previous injuries and illnesses. The training will also encompass the administration of scheduled and rescue medicines like naloxone, albuterol, and epinephrine; higher complexity treatments such as tube feedings; diabetes care; and respiratory care for chronic disease management; mental health first aid and treatment care for students with special healthcare needs.
Morgan will also equip designated schools with the required supplies and expand educational opportunities for City School students interested in pursuing school health nursing as a career. Over the past few years, SCHP and its Department of Nursing have worked closely with several high schools on initiatives to increase diversity in the healthcare profession among underrepresented populations. Through this multi-university collaboration, nursing students working at city school sites will provide learning opportunities and clinical exposure for high school students participating in City School Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in nursing and health-related fields.
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering more than 140 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.
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