School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: Read Eileen Gavin’s Perspective on the Loss of the Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Program

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Eileen Gavin shares her perspective on the status of the Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Program. A beloved professional leadership training that 900 school nurses participated in over the course of 30 years has come to an end. This guest blog post is the first outcome of the NASN 2019 Conference workshop: Amplify the Voice of School Nursing Through Blogging and Social Media.

The Loss of an Investment in School Nursing: #JJSHLPstillhere

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Eileen Gavin, MSN, FNP-BC, NCSN

I am overcome with a heavy heart and a deep sense of sadness as I arrive home from the National Association of School Nurses(NASN) Conference from Colorado.  It was not the exceptional NASN conferences that brought about this profound sense of melancholy. It is the time of year and visiting with professionals that I share a mutual allegiance.  So, let me acknowledge what these gloomy emotions truly are, pure grief. I do not grieve for the loss of a loved one, colleague or friend. No, this grief is simply for the loss of my beloved Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Program (JJSHLP).  This is the third national conference, that I have had to repeatedly respond to Fellows’ inquiries from all over the country about the continued existence of our JJSHLP program. The 900 J&J Fellows hold a strong loyalty to our fellowship network and found this program to be transformational to their school nurse practice.  It also created leadership opportunities that they may have never had the courage to embrace without the training. So, after waiting 3 years for a response from the higher-level Johnson & Johnson decision makers about their intentions of “restructuring their interests and finances” for the program, my personal conclusion is that school nursing has suffered a loss. My grief stems from the reality that there will be generations of school nurses who may never experience this high-level professional leadership development program. 

In 2013, our team of 4 school nurses and a community partner applied and was accepted into the prestigious Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Program.  This is a photo of our enthusiastic cohort after completing an intensive 5-day professional development retreat that promoted the value of school nurses as the key professionals that can impact their community’s health.  

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I was fortunate and proud to return to the program to serve as a mentor and community coach for 4 years following this photo until the funding ended after the 2016 cohort.  After 36 years of nursing, including advanced practice, this program remains the highlight of my nursing career. The JJSHLP program has elevated my practice and professionalism to heights that I could have never imagined for myself 36 years ago as I started my nursing profession.  At this point in time, I feel the urge to offer my condolences to those that have missed or lost the opportunity to be a JJSHLP Fellow. 

Now that I have publicly acknowledged my adoration and grief for the JJSHLP, it’s time to celebrate the monumental outcomes the program has afforded those that attended since 1988.  As Fellows, we are familiar with the statement, “there are no numbers without stories and no stories without numbers”, so I invite our current Fellows to share those leadership outcomes and data.  It might be on a grand scale, such as NASN past and present leadership including:

Current NASN Leadership

Laurie Combe (2013 Fellow) President

Linda Mendonca (2009 Fellow) President-Elect

Donna Mazyck (2016 Fellow) NASN Executive Director

Nichole Bobo (2016 Fellow) Director of Nursing Education


Beth Mattey (2016 Fellow) Past President 

Nina Fekaris (2016 Fellow) Past President

Mary Blackborrow (2015 Fellow) Treasurer

Or perhaps share information about a community project that continued or evolved beyond the 18-month program commitment.  For the sake of our future generations of school nurses, it is with my deepest hope that Johnson & Johnson view our outcomes and reconsiders resurrecting the JJSHLP or another corporate partner will see the value and power of investing in school nurse leadership.  Please take the time to share your comments to this blog with your accomplishments and join our new formed JJSHLP listserv, thank you, Martha Bergren, for continued Fellowship support. 

 Thank you for your support and commitment to school nurse leadership. Below I share some photos from #NASN2019.  If you use social media, please continue to share your outcomes and data by using #JJSHLP and #JJSHLPstillhere.

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JJSHLP Fellows NASN 2019

Professional Bio: Eileen Gavin, MSN, FNP-BC, NCSN is a nationally certified school nurse, nurse practitioner and co-lead nurse in the Middletown Township School District of Monmouth County, New Jersey. She is nationally board certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a Family Nurse Practitioner. In 2013, Eileen became an alumnus of the Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Institute and has served as a mentor /liaison and community coach with the program.  Eileen’s clinical experience includes pediatric primary care and school health. Most recently, Eileen’s professional focuses have been the increasing opioid epidemic in New Jersey’s communities by serving as an active member of the New Jersey Department of Education’s Opioid Task Force Committee and decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Recently she has been appointed as Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee of the New Jersey State School Nurses Association executive board.  Eileen has been recognized as an accomplished mentor and educator through multiple awards on the national, state and local levels.    


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