NYT: “Your Head of H.R. Is Now Basically the School Nurse”
A January 2022 New York Times report says Covid has forced corporate human resources personnel to manage new health-related tasks, including testing and vaccination procedures. But that does not mean, as the headline suggests, that they are now “the school nurse.” School nurses hold a professional health care position that includes clinical management of complex health problems and requires at least a bachelor of science degree in nursing.
January 9, 2022 – Today the New York Times had an article by Emma Goldberg reporting that many human resources personnel have been overwhelmed with new responsibilities for managing their organizations’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic. They must implement rules relating to testing, vaccination, masks, sanitizing procedures, social distancing, and return-to-office plans. That range of public health-related tasks is quite a challenge, as the piece notes, for “an H.R. team that doesn’t have scientific training.” And we can understand why a report might note that some of these tasks are normally the responsibility of trained health professionals. One profiled HR leader stresses that she tries “not to be a doctor or a scientist.”
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Given such HR workers’ lack of health training, though, why would the headline say that HR heads are “now basically the school nurse”? And why would the text of the piece say, in a more restrained reference, that one of the HR personnel it profiles “sometimes had to play a role akin to company nurse”? The obvious answer is that the New York Times is unaware that school and company nurses actually have extensive scientific training. School nurses generally must have at least a bachelor of science degree in nursing. They need that because their work does indeed involve solo management of key public health tasks. It also entails managing serious health conditions, from chronic asthma to mental health issues to allergic reactions. In fact, U.S. school nurses, already understaffed, are themselves struggling with the massive increase in workload that Covid has created.
One thing school nurses don’t need is influential media products suggesting that you can become one simply by assuming certain tasks in managing the corporate response to Covid. Sadly, this kind of media disrespect is not uncommon, although it is more likely to appear in an entertainment context (see Hasan Minhaj and Jon Stewart), rather than a serious news article. We hope Ms. Goldberg and the New York Times will be more careful in the future.
See the article by Emma Goldberg, “Your Head of H.R. Is Now Basically the School Nurse,” posted January 9, 2022 on the website of the New York Times. On Twitter you can reach Emma Goldberg @emmabgo and the New York Times @nytimes or by email at email@example.com. Please copy us on your messages @TruthAbtNursing or on your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!