My last blog was a call for stories to share from school nurses across the country. I was excited to hear from Meg Jenkins, a New Hampshire school nurse and incoming Director to the NASN Board. She is a great Twitter friend and fellow gun violence prevention advocate. You can follow Meg on Twitter! This is Meg’s reflection on her school nursing journey to become NCSN – Nationally Certified School Nurse.
My journey to school nurse certification began in 1994 when I was hired by the Gilford (NH) School District. I earned my BSN from Salve Regina College (1983) and had 11 years of nursing experience under my belt. A teacher I knew recommended I apply. I spoke with the Elementary school nurse, a fellow Salve Regina graduate as well as my beloved mentor, Rosanne Sheridan, who encouraged me to go for it. So I applied, sat through a 10 person interview, and was hired!
I started when my son was in 7th grade. What a blessing to see him in the school environment. It allowed me to observe many events I might otherwise have missed.
The longer I was in this job, the less I felt I knew. I have had some egregiously sick children over the years. Not all have survived their illness, or their family situation. I have learned SO much from the minds of teenagers. They are a unique group of amazingly resilient and funny kids. They love, hate, question and challenge just about everything, all day, every day!
As time went on, I pursued a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and completed that in 2011. That really sparked my interest in obtaining my certification. Joining and working with the New Hampshire School Nurses Association, was the true eye opener for me. Once I attended the NASN conference, I was determined to meet this goal. The plethora of nurses, so many with multiple degrees and national certification, was THE game changer.
Covid allowed me to spend time at home and I got busy reading, writing, using flashcards and practice exams. I joined an online group at NASN dedicated to exam prep (4+ times, LOL). I started to follow nurses on multiple social media sites and have learned so much from them as well.
I finally registered and took the exams I was as ready as I felt I could have been. I feel that the journey was so beneficial, as it caused me to re-look at many areas of school nursing that I do not typically address on a daily basis. I started with middle and high schoolers in 1994 and moved to high school in 2001. The exam preparation led me to review the school aged child from 3-21! It was a LOT of information to assimilate and re-learn.
But the journey was well worth the work, especially the day I received notification that was a Nationally Certified School Nurse! And I rocked the exam with an average 86% over multiple content areas.
Since then, it has opened doors for me I never dreamed. I am working with NBCSN, to write questions for the prep exams. This weekend, I head to Washington DC as the NASN Directors for the winter conference. I am excited beyond belief to engage with my colleagues from all over the country and address legislative issues and work on practice documents and policies that impact us all.
My journey, which truly started as a candy striper has morphed from that, to being an LNA, a student then graduate nurse to a 40 tear career nurse (29 in school nursing) with no end in sight!