Over the next months, I will be renewing my coveted Nationally Certified School Nurse (NCSN) credential as well as saying farewell to respected colleagues, with whom I have served on the National Board for Certification of School Nurses NBCSN executive board. My heart is both full and heavy as I transition off this progressive board of dedicated professional and thoughtful school health leaders. We have served together through the most consequential period in modern school nursing history and for that, I am grateful and thankful to have had the opportunity to contribute.
Over the past three years of service to the board, we have taken bold actions to address our nation’s most challenging social justice concerns. I am proud of the brave conversations our board has engaged in to reach consensus about statements regarding racism. We have taken actions to diversify our board because representation matters. The work will continue long after my service to the board ends, but I will consider my time spent on NBCSN as some of the most valuable nursing leadership experiences I have had. Thank you to NBCSN for believing in me and providing a safe, collegial and enriching opportunity to help advance school nursing practice on the national level.
When I decided to sit for the NCSN exam, I did not realize how that one decision would lead to an amazing transformation in my school nursing practice. I have lived in the educational shadows of nursing because my path to nursing did not include a BSN. What I do bring in terms of educational preparation is a strong liberal arts education and a master’s degree in education and counseling, all a wonderful background for school nursing. Being able to sit for the NCSN exam became an urgent issue for me as the requirements were going to change and I would soon be ineligible. So, I jumped into the deep end of the pool and took the plunge to become nationally certified.
Achieving NCSN has transformed my school nursing practice, but it has taken me five years post-certification to understand the impact. As I look back on the past five years, I see a direct correlation between choosing to sit for the NCSN exam and enhanced enthusiasm for school nursing. It helped me see a broader vision for our specialty practice beyond the walls of my school health office. I was so enthusiastic about passing that I volunteered to host an online study group in a NASN Listserv community group -National Certification Exam Candidates that continues all of these years later. I have also served as the outreach co-chair on the NBCSN board, and it is this board service that will be concluding at the end of December.
I encourage readers of this blog to consider sitting for the NCSN exam. It is an empowering experience, one that is much needed, especially during COVID. In addition to loving our credentials, being nationally certified signifies a mark of excellence in school nursing practice. You have taken the extra step to become nationally recognized in your field. Write those credentials with pride, make sure you share your reasons for choosing to become nationally certified, and share your successes. It is another step in educating the public about the expansive role of the school nurse.