Advocacy & Activism, School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: “The Future Will Ask, “What Did You Do?”

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Email is sometimes cold and impersonal, and I find it very interesting how people try to soften the experience by adding a message. Some people use “Warm Regards” or one nurse I know uses “May the Force be with you” to sign off her emails. Quotes are also very a popular way to personalize the email experience. @Beth Mattey, MSN, RN, NCSN, the immediate Past President of NASN, used the “NASN Definition of School Nursing” under her signature.  The first time I noticed that I thought it was a great teaching tool and now also include the definition of School Nursing in my professional emails. But for me, it was the signature line from Professor Emerita, Editor and Nurse Activist, Peggy Chin, Ph.D., RN that really struck a chord: “The future will ask, what did you do?

The future (our students) is already here, and they have a right to ask, what we did.  What did we do to protect a generation of children from gun violence invading the hallways and classrooms of their schools? What did we do to ask for help beginning in our own communities, through our states and finally to Washington, DC? What have we done or maybe not done to address the enormity of childhood poverty, community violence, food, and housing insecurities and health inequity?

These “wicked problems” that seem insurmountable, are the exact issues they must be addressed.  I can only speak for myself and say…not enough, not enough.  I don’t say this lightly, or glibly, in fact, it is a most sobering statement. I did not do enough because I was fighting in a silo. I was waging a silent war fueled by frustration and disgust. For the past seventeen years, I have witnessed the inequities that my students and families face every day while I drive my 12 miles home from a broken inner city to a comfortable suburban community.

The truth is this, we are much stronger together than we are alone and so I urge everyone who reads this blog to find your tribe, find your people, reach out, speak out and be part of #SchoolNursesDemandAction. We have a strong voice in unison, it is somewhat untested because we come from a culture of silence.  This may be left over from nursing school or early training in the hospital when we were silenced into not asking or questioning. Clearly, that did not serve us well and we are in a new era of #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, #ExpectUs, and #NeverAgain. Flying under the radar is no longer an option.

One, of the many school nurses speaking out and using their voices by leveraging their national social media platform, is @Lisa Kern, MSN, RN, NCSN. Lisa is a school nurse supervisor and NASN Director from Florida.  Lisa was just interviewed for a podcast because of a Tweet she posted that was seen by Barbara Glickstein RN MPH MS, Co-director of the GW Nursing Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement. You never know who may be reading your Tweets! How fortunate for Lisa, and for school nurses that this Tweet caught Barbara’s attention:

You can listen to the full podcast where Lisa advocates for school nursing by discussing the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, the lack of proper staffing, untenable student to school nurse ratios and discusses the NURSE Act:

Read the NURSE Act by clicking here:

Just days before Lisa’s tweet, that was read by Barbara, she posted a blog on the Florida Association of School Nurse (FASN) Community called: A Heavy Heart and a Call to Action!  You can read this powerful blog, posted February 15, 2018, the day after the Parkland shootings:

Congratulations to Lisa for speaking up, out and taking action to advocate for all school nurses across the country. #SchoolNursesDemandAction is a grassroots movement created to remind school nurses everywhere that our voices are trusted, important and have an impact.


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