The power of social media connected me to the work of AFFIRM Research and Dr. Megan Ranney. Through months of tweeting and sharing resources, a relationship was forged that somehow broke through the anonymity of the internet and created a professional and also a personal connection. In the spring of 2018, I was asked to contribute a guest blog to the AFFIRM Research site. Here is a link to the blog: No More Empty Desks
I am a school nurse being welcomed into a physician-driven organization. It has been a career privilege to work side by side with some of the leaders of the movement to address gun violence as a public health crisis. In early February I attended an in-person meeting with AFFIRM and those organizations that support the urgency of funding firearm violence prevention. I was the only nurse. This must change.
Through my advocacy work, I reached out to several national nursing organizations, expressing the importance of supporting the work of AFFIRM Research and asking for public support. My disappointment at the lack of response rivals my elation at being offered a seat at this table. But I do not want to be the lone nurse in this work. Where are the national nursing organizations? Where do they stand on the issue of gun violence as a public health crisis?
Nurses, we are in a unique time of transformation and inter-disciplinary collaboration to solve some of our biggest public health challenges. Let’s not miss the opportunity to work with physicians, scientists, public health professionals, and researchers. This is our moment to join in collaborative efforts to face the most urgent needs of our community and proactively address the “wicked problems” that impact our world. We need to answer the call with a resounding YES!
I often think of Lillian Wald, who pioneered public health nursing, with the idea that the nurse’s “organic relationship with the neighborhood should constitute the starting point for a universal service to the region.” (retrieved from https://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/people/wald-lillian/) Our “collective neighborhood” is hurting and in need of healing.
We are in a public health crisis and who better than nurses, steeped in evidence-based practice, to help solve the epidemic of gun violence. School nurses are especially at the forefront of this work, where community violence meets school violence in classrooms, hallways, and on school grounds. The proverbial table is set, take your seat, please don’t leave me sitting alone.