School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse – Power of Community Engagement

“The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital.”  – Mark Hyman, MD

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 11.22.40 AMCommunity engagement invigorates a collective population to explore community-based solutions to address their unique challenges and opportunities. Including the community is key to building sustainability in any change-related initiative.  School Nurses are uniquely positioned to lead the charge of community engagement because we simultaneously have our finger on the pulse of multiple populations.  It is through this Population Health lens that we view our school communities, from both a microscope and a wide-angle perspective.

Being relentless in our work outside of the confines of our health office can change the face of School Nursing.  We are experts in our office and schools.  Now, let’s take on the challenge to become relentless in our health expertise outside of the walls of our office and into the community at large.  Community nursing is at the core of our profession.  Lina Rogers, one of the founders of school nursing, was a New York City public health nurse. Here is an article detailing her amazing journey to become the first School Nurse:

School Nursing is circling back to our roots in Public Health. Being relentless means creating space to step outside of what is familiar and stretching our reach to the greater community.  Imagine our impact if we each took a bite-size, actionable piece, of community school nursing.  What would it look for you?  For me, it was creating Community Cafes, where parents shared their healthcare experiences.

Community cafes are based on the World Café model, a method of community engagement that promotes empowerment by giving families a voice, a chance to address specific topics of concern.  These structured conversations became the impetus to engage our families in community-focused conversations about their over-utilization of the Emergency Department (ED) for primary care.  We wanted to improve communications between the pediatric providers/school nurses and families in order to promote care coordination for our students.

Our Community Café project was an initiative created by participating in the Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Program. We were tasked with bringing an evidence-based initiative to our school community to address a data-informed health concern. In our research, we found that the families in Camden City, New Jersey were over-utilizing the ED for primary care 85% more than Camden County residents. Here is a glimpse into the project:

I will share the expansion of our program and the amazing outcomes in future blog posts.  Suffice it to say that we have followed the community lead, and went beyond data collection to advocacy.  Join me and other School Nurses across the country who are taking on the challenge to be #RelentlessSchoolNurses. There is work to be done and students and communities to serve that need School Nurse champions! Follow me on twitter @RobinCogan and join with #RelentlessSchoolNurse colleagues for support and idea sharing.

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