The Relentless School Nurse: Twitter as a Tool For School Nursing Practice
This is the third installment of the guest blog posts written by Rutgers-Camden School Nurse Certification students as part of their social media assignment. Today’s guest blog is written by Victoria Crews who was paired with Eileen Gavin and wrote about how she uses Twitter as a tool to enhance her school nursing practice.
My name is Victoria Crews and I am currently a graduate student at Rutgers University Camden
pursuing my NJ School Nursing Certificate. One of my assignments this semester was to
interview a school nurse that uses Twitter in her professional practice. My new Twitter friend
that I had the privilege to meet is Eileen Gavin. Eileen has been a nurse for 36 years, with a
background in ER nursing, an NP in family practice, and she has been a school nurse for many
years. She currently serves a high school in Middletown Twp, NJ. My question for Eileen was,
“How has Twitter changed your school nursing practice?” Eileen had a lot to say about this
Eileen first became aware of Twitter as a tool when she was serving as a mentor for the
Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Program, mentoring other school nurse fellows.
She is the one who introduced our own Robin Cogan to Twitter, who is now affectionately
known as the School Nurse Twitter Queen. Eileen has found that Twitter, as well as other social
media, can be a powerful professional tool. Eileen generally uses Twitter only in a professional
sense, using other forms of social media in her personal life. There is one notable exception to
her guideline that she shared with me in order to demonstrate the power of this venue. Once
when traveling, she experienced a two day delay on a vacation to Hawaii that began with a crew
not being available for her flight. Upon returning, Eileen began the process of trying to gain
some recompense for some of her lost vacation. Going through the usual channels, ie customer
service, got her nowhere. So then she Tweeted her dissatisfaction. Almost immediately
someone got back to her. People and companies pay attention to social media.
Eileen told me that she uses Twitter in many ways in the course of her school nursing practice.
One of the uses is that she follows colleagues from all over the country to see what they are
currently doing in their practice. She has met and formed relationships and alliances through
Twitter. She connects with nurses and other professionals that have similar interests and
passions. Eileen and I share a passion for the mental health of our school students. As I go into
the future in my own practice, I will be connecting with Eileen in this area and others for support
and guidance. Eileen also follows organizations, like our own organization, NASN, as well as others such as the American Academy of Pediatrics. She follows the current research this way. The CDC also Tweets out a monthly digest for various laws that are changing that she finds helpful and she uses Twitter to collect data from these, as well as other organizations.
Following current legislation both in NJ and other states is important to Eileen. Recent legislation in NY that removed the religious exemption for immunizations is one example of pressing policy issues. NJ is looking at similar legislation. Eileen is currently the co-chair on legislation for NJSSNA, so she is always interested in what other states have been able to do to advance the cause of school health and connects via Twitter with other professionals in different states and even all over the world. Eileen also keeps NJ nurse up to date on current legislation and ways in which school nurses can participate in the legislative process. She also finds webinars and classes on Twitter for her own professional development.
Eileen uses Twitter in her day to day practice as well. She uses Twitter to disseminate
information to students and parents. She recently Tweeted some current information on vaping,
and her superintendent picked it up and put it on the school’s website. She finds Twitter a great
venue to communicate valid evidence based practice to her school community. She will also
advocate for her school nurses on Twitter, as well as use it for positive reinforcement for her
students, such as a shout out to the football team for a game well played. There is a lot of
negativity associated with social media, so Eileen tries to countermand that with positive
messages for staff, students and the community at large.
Twitter has added to Eileen’s professional engagement and she adjusts her usage as the media changes. She sees it as the start of a collegial conversation with those she might never meet in person. It advertises her professional abilities and passions, and she has gotten several offers
to present via her contacts on Twitter. These are but a few ways Eileen’s nursing practice has
changed and grown because of her use of social media. She is a phenomenal and
accomplished nurse and I am glad to have met her via Twitter. I know as the years go on, we
will be Tweeting again.
Bio: Eileen Gavin, MSN, FNP-BC, NCSN is a nationally certified school nurse and lead nurse in the Middletown Township School District of Monmouth County, New Jersey. Her educational back- ground includes a Bachelors of Nursing (BSN), a Masters of School Nursing (MSN), and a Post-Masters Certificate in Advance Practice from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She is nationally board certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a Family Nurse Practitioner and the National Board for Certification of School Nurses. 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 family prac- tice, urgent care, preventive medicine, disease management, emergency medicine and pediatric primary care. Eileen’s interests include health promotion and policies, emergency medicine, pediatric health care across the lifespan, and addressing healthcare disparities. 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 and serves as a member of the Brain Alliance of New Jersey’s
Concussion in Youth Sports Steering Committee. Eileen has been recognized as an
accomplished mentor and educator through multiple awards on the local and state level.
Bio: Victoria L. Crews, BSN, RN has been a nurse for 36 years, she received her BSN from Trenton State College. Currently she is working in the Voorhees Township School District in the school nurses’ offices providing care coordination and health education for grades K through 8. She is currently working on her MSN in School Nursing at Rutgers University in Camden. Prior to that Crews worked in the offices of Hope Church providing office administration, database collection and coordination, and was a liaison to the public. She also functioned as a nurse consultant for the preschool. Crews is proud to be certified by the American Red Cross as a CPR and First Aid Instructor. She is also certified in Mental Health First Aid. Crews started her career at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Her experience is in surgical stepdown and PACU.
Crews is also a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Delta Nu Chapter.