Advocacy & Activism

The Relentless School Nurse: A National Nursing Call to Action

cropped-logo-clip.pngHow do we as nurses contribute to the greater good? This is an important question in our polarized world. Nurses can use our leverage as the most trusted profession to frame complex social issues from a nursing perspective. But do we?  How can we amplify our voices even more?  One example would be standing up for common sense gun laws.

The Parkland shootings have activated healthcare providers across the country to speak up, and out, about the public health epidemic of gun violence. Tackling this issue will take a multi-tiered, multi-sector approach and that includes the voices, talents, and leadership of nurses.

Angela Green PhD, RN, CPHQ, FAAN, FAHA is my guest blogger this week. She reached out to me on Twitter after reading about my family’s generational trauma from exposure to gun violence. I am honored and inspired that Angela was moved to action through the Guest Editorial I wrote for Nursing Economics. She shares her story through this personal reflection of how she reached a place of activism.  To quote Angela: “I prefer children without bullet holes.”


Angela Green, PhD, RN, CPHQ, FAAN, FAHA

“I’ve been a pediatric nurse for over 30 years – children are my passion and purpose.  I care passionately for the health and welfare of the children and youth of our world.   I’ve watched in horror with tears streaming down my face as news outlets covered school shootings, children and teens who were victims of drive-by shootings, children dying at the hands of another child because adults left guns accessible, children and youth dying needlessly. And yet, I sat silently in my sorrow praying for all of those affected. 

On February 14, 2018, silence ceased to be an option.  The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida was different.  Part of it was that was my state; it could have been my children’s hospital receiving the students who were dead and injured. But more than that, it was the students.  The students who courageously, while living through an unspeakable tragedy – said – ENOUGH.  I watched these young heroes envision a future and call us to action to create that future where children, youth, and adults are safe in homes, schools, movie theaters, restaurants, concerts, and on playgrounds and city streets. I took a deep breath and joined them in using social media as a tool to help build that future.  I began to feel shame that it took so long for me to move out of silent sorrow to action. And I began to wonder, what else? What else can I do?

Enter Robin Cogan, someone I followed on Twitter. Robin was sharing her father’s story, her niece Carly’s story (one of those heroes from Parkland calling us to action), stories of the violence affecting the students she serves. And Robin shared a vision of nurses uniting to be part of the solution.  The students inspired me, Robin inspired me, and I reached out to Robin in response – with the question, how can I help?  She shared her vision for Nurses Demand in unity with Moms Demand and Students Demand. I said – I’m in.  The rest of the story is yet to be told, but 1 relentless school nurse joined with 1 relentless pediatric quality & safety nurse are out to change the world. Who else is in?” -Angela Green, PhD, RN, CPHQ, FAAN, FAHA

Bio:  Angela Green, PhD, RN, CPHQ, FAHA, FAAN is the Senior Director for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.  She is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow alumna with over 30 years of experience in children’s healthcare. With a clinical background in neonatal and pediatric cardiac intensive care, Angela has been privileged to serve in a variety of leadership roles focused on achieving excellence in children’s healthcare.  You can follow Angela on Twitter @greenal11.

Angela and I spoke on the phone about next steps for #SchoolNursesDemandAction. She asked this powerful question: “What is stopping you from making this a national movement?” My head was spinning trying to articulate an answer to her valid and important question. I simply said, “I am not sure how.” She responded with an affirmation that she would “use her seat on the bus” to work together to make this happen.  I am a very grateful school nurse, and also want to acknowledge the other nurses who are joining this movement. Because #SchoolNursesDemandAction has moved beyond the walls of the “Health Office”, I am introducing an additional logo: #NursesDemandAction.  Please reach out, as Angela asked, “Who else is in?”, and email me at or message me on Twitter @RobinCogan

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