School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: NASN 2023 Included A Public Health Approach to Stemming Gun Violence


For decades, gun violence was treated as a battle to be won rather than a problem to be solved. – Nicholas Kristof

What an honor it was to present at a general session at the NASN 2023 conference in Orlando, Florida this past week. The focus of my presentation was how school nurses have an opportunity to join the public health approach to reduce gun violence in schools and communities. Refusing to accept gun violence as inevitable because it is predictable and, therefore, preventable, we envisioned a school community that prioritized school connectedness and healing approaches, fostering environments where students could truly thrive.

I reviewed the findings from a pilot research study that I have been working on with partners from Mass General Hospital Gun Violence Prevention Center and Northeastern University School Health Academy. The purpose of the research study is to develop a gun violence prevention education program for school nurses and assess its efficacy. The goal is to improve communication skills around gun safety among school nurses through improvements in nurse attitudes, self-efficacy, and strength/direction of safety recommendations. The sponsor of the research is Rutgers New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center.

We invited school nurses to participate in this research to provide insight into their experience relating to gun violence prevention in the scope of their practice. Individual interviews and focus groups with school nurses informed the creation of a training program including a didactic component and case-based scenarios. My hope is that we can provide on-site training for school nurses in an upcoming NASN conference. Hopefully, Chicago 2024 could be the place and time, keep an eye on this space for updates!

There is common ground to explore in student safety and well-being when it comes to gun violence prevention. We can immediately reduce the number of unintentional shootings and youth suicide by promoting safe storage education. School nurses have an important role in encouraging parents who have guns in the home to protect their children through responsible storage strategies. 

I want to thank all of the participants who approached me after my presentation. The stories that you shared will fuel my continued commitment to this important work. I am especially appreciative to NASN for accepting my abstract as a general session presentation. I believe it is the first time the topic of gun violence prevention has been part of the offerings at a NASN conference. 

Here are some scenes from NASN 2023, a gathering of 1000 school nurses from across the country and internationally too!

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10 thoughts on “The Relentless School Nurse: NASN 2023 Included A Public Health Approach to Stemming Gun Violence”

  1. Thank you, Robin. Your presentation was fantastic and eye opening. The work you do is so important and now you have given me the tools to join in and start the work too.

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback Char! I appreciate your message.

    2. I appreciate your response Char! That means so much to me that you feel you have tools to join in and start the work. That is the goal!

  2. Thank you so much on your hard work and dedication to this very important public health initiative! I missed the live NASN conference this year but look forward to learning more about how school nurses can work together to prevent more senseless gun violence. Please let us know if we can particpate in the pilot research
    in some way. I’m hopeful my local NASN affiliate can become more involved at our schools thia year. To start, I recently joined my local chapter of Moms Prevent Gun Violence and attended a rally to connect with other groups and to learn about local resources that could support our students and community. Thanks again, Robin!

    1. Thank you for contacting me Michele, please stay in touch, we are hoping the grant will expand.

    2. That it fantastic advocacy Michele. I am sure that I will be presenting this information again. I hope we can expand the training to many more school nurses. It is well within our scope of practice and the nurses felt it created common ground. There was very positive feedback, I am looking forward to reading the evaluations, once they become available.

    3. Thank you so much Michele! Your message is so hopeful, I appreciate you sharing, please keep me updated on your progress.

  3. Excellent presentation! Robin your work in this area is very much appreciated! I look forward to next year’s conference to hear more on this critical topic.

    1. Much love to you, my friend. I hope we can make this happen!

  4. Thank you Robin for leading the way on this. School nurses are in the unique position to effect real change in prevention of gun violence in the home.
    Let’s hope that this advocacy does not stop at the school house door but goes into the larger community as well.
    Thank you for nudging NASN on this.
    Maybe this will be NASN’s first step on the way to joining other organizations in advocating for sensible gun control laws and banning assault weapons.

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