Teachers quit over changes to high school nurse aide program

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Registered nurses who teach at New Hanover County high schools are quitting amid changes they say disrupt a program that used to work very well.

In August, the New Hanover County School Board approved a contract with Novant Health to give students from decades-old nurse aide certification programs taught in New Hanover County high schools the opportunity to work in hospital acute care units.

Staff overseeing the program say students are being pulled from successfully run programs, which have traditionally taken place in long-term care facilities. The change, they say, is forcing teachers to take additional training they didn’t need before.

“As an expert in the field of nursing aide education, I am concerned why I was not consulted about this decision,” said Margaret Gambino, RN and former teacher. , at a recent school board meeting. “Do any of you know what it’s like to bring a teenager into a clinical setting?”

A memorandum of understanding between the county and Novant Health, approved in August, allows students seeking nursing aide certifications to obtain clinical hours at Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

In the past, they did this in nursing homes in their community, where patients did not need acute medical attention.

Ashley High School career development coordinator Emilie Pridgen said so far at least three teachers who are also registered nurses have resigned from the district, including Gambino, who led the program. Ashley’s nurse’s aide for two decades.

Others have resigned from Hoggard and Laney, said Pridgen, who also spoke at the recent school board meeting. She added that there doesn’t seem to be any interest in the vacancies.

Other teachers are threatening to resign from their posts due to the added stress caused by the change, other teachers told the council.

Pridgen said some teachers had been threatened with dismissal if they didn’t complete Novant Health’s required trainings over the summer, and others said they still hadn’t heard back on whether the District would fund the liability insurance required by Novant.

“Why are these teachers being chased away? The rest of the teachers will leave if this mandate or policy stays in place,” Pridgen said. “You will lose your health science programs. I already can’t promise students a program next semester.

At last week’s board meeting, trustees said the deal was made with Novant because it was a good opportunity for students and the district plans to pay teachers to their participation in training during the summer. They did not specify whether there would be any consequences for teachers who did not attend these trainings.

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Director of Studies Patrice Faison said the district is working to determine whether it should cover additional liability insurance requirements, as reported by Novant. Faison told the board that his staff have heard teachers’ concerns and are working to resolve the issue as early as this spring.

Novant Health rebuffed the claims. Holly Reynolds, nursing professional development manager at Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center, told the board that the hospital has a similar program with schools in Brunswick County that has proven very successful.

Reynolds said the hospital is happy to bring other students to work in geriatric units.

But teachers insisted they wanted answers about why the district meddle in a program that had been running smoothly for two decades.

“I’m the third (to quit),” Gambino told the school board. “Others will follow me, I can promise you that.”

Contact journalist Sydney Hoover at [email protected] or on Twitter @sydneymhoover. Join the Education Issues in Southeastern North Carolina Facebook group to stay up to date on education news.

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