For the past eight years, I have had the privilege of teaching in the Rutgers-Camden School Nurse Certificate Program. I honor the efforts of my students and marvel at their courage, many having not been in the role of student for many, many years. My students are adult learners, professional nurses who want to enter the unknown world of school nursing. Being a school nursing educator makes me especially #Relentless! It is a daunting challenge and responsibility to educate the next generation of school nurses. My goal is to share the cutting edge of school nursing practice with my students. I am in awe of their dedication to glean as much information as they can in the brief time we spend in class together.
One of the assignments I introduced involved several components that are related to social media and blogging. The first component was linking each of my students to school nurse mentors who use Twitter. Of course, that meant that my students needed to create their own Twitter accounts. We then arranged a #SchoolNurseChat so that the students and school nurse mentors could connect virtually. That was a great success for both the students and the school nurses! It was a lively chat with great engagement. The final step was for the students to interview their mentors and write a profile that could be published on The Relentless School Nurse blog.
This is the first entry that I am publishing! Alexandra Popa has written a wonderful profile of Angela Avramidis, a social media savvy school nurse!
Angela Avramidis BSN, RN is a nationally certified school nurse who works as the School Nurse Leader for the Millbury Public School District in Massachusetts. Angela has been working as a school nurse for the past six years. While working as a substitute school nurse, Angela discovered her passion for school nursing and began working towards her certification. She made the transition from the hospital setting to the school setting because it enabled her to maintain a healthy family relationship while pursuing a career in community health.
Angela was introduced to social media, specifically Twitter, because a previous school district heavily relied on that platform to keep parents and the surrounding community informed about school happenings. While using Twitter to communicate with school faculty as well as the parents of her students, Angela recognized that Twitter is an influential and far-reaching communication tool that could be utilized for far more than just routine communication with parents and co-workers. “After joining [Twitter], I realized what a wonderful resource Twitter could be in promoting and marketing the profession of school nursing as a valuable part of the Public Health Domain”. Many people do not understand the role of a school nurse and furthermore, the school nurse is not always a visible member of the school community. A strong presence on social media helps to increase the visibility of school nursing as a profession and promote the meaningful work school nurses do each and every day to promote the health and wellness of their communities. Professional isolation is an unfortunate reality for many school nurses. As nurses we go from the hospital setting, where we work closely on a unit with other nurses and have professional opinions and comradery at our fingertips, to the school setting where we are the sole medical professional in a school health office. Social media enables school nurses to make connections with other school nurses and community health partners. Twitter helped Angela to find “a missing connection with other school nurses, a mentor-type relationship with like-minded individuals that can be so hard to find within the field of school nursing”.
Social media is an instrumental resource for the introduction and promotion of school nurse led health initiatives. Increasing the number of school employees who are cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) certified is a school health initiative that Angela is passionate about. Before Angela, no program existed in her district that trained staff or students to perform CPR or use an AED in the event of a life threatening emergency and the number of trained staff was alarming low. As one of only three nurses in her district, Angela recognized that the likelihood of an educator or student being the first responder on the scene of a cardiac arrest was extremely high. “I became certified as an American Heart Association Instructor while simultaneously looking into ways to finance the program. I was able to fund the program through generous donations from both the Millbury Parents Club and Millbury Lions Club, as well as through 2 projects I created on Donorschoose and a grant I received from the Blackstone Valley Educational Foundation”.
Over the last year and a half, Angela has certified almost 50 staff members and 50 High School students in her district. Angela plans on continuing this training program every school year, training new district employees and students as well as recertifying those she has previously trained. Through this experience, Angela has gained valuable insight about what it takes to mobilize and fund a community health initiative. Angela used twitter to promote her initiative and garner support and funding to bring her idea to fruition. Angela continues to have a strong presence on Twitter and uses social media as a platform to bring the profession of school nursing as well as community health issues into focus.