Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nursing Students Balk at Assignment They Cite E. St. Louis Crime Rate

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nursing Students Balk at Assignment They Cite E. St. Louis Crime Rate

Article excerpt

Is East St. Louis too violent a place for student nurses to make home care visits?

Yes, say several students, who complained Monday that Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville has told them to do it or drop out of school.

No, say SIUE administrators, who have never had a student injured in the program, which they insist is essential both to education and public service.

Mostly not, says Mayor Gordon D. Bush, who suggests his city is far safer than most people think and who offered to help arrange extra police patrols when nurses are called into known danger spots.

"When you have children, you make calculated decisions about what risks you want to take," said one student, Donna Skouby, 36, a former insurance agent and mother of two young children. "This is a risk I don't want to take.

"If SIUE were a mother and we were her children, SIUE would be guilty of negligence," she complained.

Added student Rita Bean, 29, "I'm terrified of it."

Three other student nurses who met with a reporter Monday gave similar concerns but refused to let their names be used out of fear of reprisals from the school.

All are among about 60 seniors scheduled to graduate with bachelor's degrees in December. This last-semester course is a requirement that so frightens the five that they all said they would have considered other schools if they had known about it in advance.

They learned of their assignments last month and must decide what to do by the week of Oct. 25.

Some say they cannot afford to quit. At least one said she might drop out and see if SIUE would assign her somewhere else next semester.

Three signed a letter of protest that included signatures of their spouses or parents.

The five interviewed said conversations with others showed widespread concern among the approximately 30 students randomly assigned to work with the East Side Health District in East St. …

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