I have always been interested in Top 10 lists and this year is no different. I have been reading all of the end-of-the-year lists and realized maybe it was time to make my own. As a school nurse and president-elect of the National Association of School Nurses, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about children’s health, the practice of school nursing and the state of school health, so I knew exactly what my list would cover.
NASN is a non-profit organization that advances school nurse practice to keep students healthy, safe and ready to learn. As an officer in NASN I have witnessed many great things happening at NASN this year and it’s impossible to list them all. First and most importantly, recognition must be given to the board members, officers and staff of NASN. These dedicated professionals work hard to provide school nurses with the information and tools needed to care for our nations children in school. A few highlights from several NASN initiatives this year include; data collection has begun
with Step-Up and Be Counted, a joint effort of NASN and
the National Association of State School Nurse
Consultants, the NASN Membership Campaign is gaining
momentum, School Nurse Net, an electronic community
for school nurses is growing , and the first in a series,
Principles for Practice: Nursing Delegation to
Unlicensed Assistive Personnel in the School Setting has been
published. For more information check out the NASN website at http://www.nasn.org
Although not included in my top 10 list, I must mention the professional and personal satisfaction I have experienced as a liaison with two groups, the Council on School Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Board for Certification of School Nurses. Both organizations are led by remarkable health professionals who support the health of children and the care they receive from school nurses. So… my list, starting with number 10!
10. Nursing Alliance Leadership Academy in Louisville, Kentucky
This was my second year attending the Leadership Academy sponsored by the Nursing Organizations Alliance. NASN President Carolyn Duff and I heard dynamic, industry leading speakers, challenging us to bring the best to NASN. Sheri Jacobs shared information on membership recruitment and retention, Adele Bambardella spoke about crisis communication, Jamie Notter discussed managing organization challenges and Kimberly Pendo offered legal and financial guidance for non-profit organizations. Kudos to NOA for providing this opportunity for nursing organization leaders.
9. Reviewing a vision toolkit for NASN
Okay, I realize this sounds a little geeky, but seriously I’m excited about the possibilities for this toolkit. After spending a year working with a graduate student on vision screening for Delaware school nurses, I’m looking forward to standardized vision screening recommendations for students. The importance of early detection of vision difficulties in children can not be stressed enough, most difficulties can be corrected and will make a difference in the life of a child. I have seen far too many high school students who have lost vision in one eye due to undetected amblyopia. I’m hoping standardized recommendations will become a reality.
8. Care Coordination
Recently this term has been used with increasing frequency, particularly as school nurses are demonstrating the improvement in health status and cost savings when a school nurse is available to provide health care to students in school. Although care coordination is a standard of care for school nursing, the 2014 JAMA article, Cost-Benefit Study of School Nursing Services, has been eye opening to many outside the school health community. To school nurses and those who work with school nurses daily, the article was, like a no brainer, “well of course school nurses provide cost saving health care, we have been referred to as the hidden health care system.” This article broadened the audience and reinforced the important role school nurses serve as members of the health care team. Health care for children does not stop at the school doors. The Nemours Project in Delaware is demonstrating improved student health outcomes when school nurses have access to student’s health records with parent permission. Dian Baker and team in California have developed an educational program for school nurses in care coordination as part of a Lucille Packard grant and will present a session at the 2015 NASN Conference in Philadelphia. Carolyn Duff has worked closely with Boston Children’s Hospital to develop a discharge planning program and the inclusion of school nurses is a must for any discharge plan. I am looking forward to more opportunities to improve care to children with school nurses as an integral member of the health care team.
7. School Nurse Blogs
If you haven’t read any school nurse blogs this year, I encourage you to seek out a few. School nurses are funny, intuitive, caring and have a unique view on health care. School nurses ROCK!
I don’t know about anyone else, but after anticipating the
conference for 6 months, I was excited to see over
1200 school nurses descend on San Antonio for a well
planned, well executed conference. The opening of the conference didn’t disappoint as NASN President Carolyn Duff danced down the aisle with her Texas sized cowboy hat, leading a Mariachi Band to open the conference. It was the best!
5. Attending the New Jersey, Nebraska and Delaware school nursing conferences
NASN had a tweet wall at the 2013 Conference, but the 2014 Conference brought tweeting to a new level for school nursing with 108 dedicated school nurse tweeters. With the help of several expert Twitter users, school nurses are learning how to share information on Twitter. The experienced school nurse tweeters in the UK showed us how social media can be used in school nursing and now a school nurse Twitter chat is planned for January 6 led by NASN Board Member Jessica Porter.
3. The Inspired Nurse
The Nursing Organization Alliance Conference in Tampa, FL was informative and educational, sharing information on leading a non-profit organization. My personal favorite however was Rich Bluni, the Inspired Nurse. His personal reflections and his outlook on life and nursing truly was inspirational to me. I came away with a new plan to manage my busy schedule, both at my job as a school nurse and as president-elect of NASN. If I would share one take-away, it would be “Pay attention. Be grateful. Feed your spirit.”-Rich Bluni
2. The Free Care Rule
I have been involved in school nursing leadership since 1992 which has allowed me to be involved with the evolution of Medicaid billing for education. I have followed the ups and downs of reimbursement as states determine how they will bill for services provided AND how the “free care rule” has hindered local education agencies from receiving funding. The announcement at the end of 2014 that CMS will no longer apply the “Free Care Rule’’ is a win that has been a long time coming. Again, maybe not what you would expect as a highlight, but it truly is the result of many, many voices advocating for the support of school health and the services provided by school nurses in schools. The potential financial support for school health is yet to be seen.
1. My students
And my Number 1 favorite activity as a school nurse, is the interaction I have with STUDENTS. I am reminded daily why I am a school nurse. The potential for our youth is unlimited, but too often barriers to health and health care can seem insurmountable. As a school nurse, I make a difference. There is nothing more to add.