In my previous blog post, I shared my transformational experience attending the 2023 School Nurse International Conference, hosted by Northeastern University School Health Academy in Boston. Now, in this follow-up post, I want to reflect on my presentation titled “A Public Health Approach to Ending Gun Violence Against Children: Experiences from a US School Nurse’s Office.” The response from the participants was eye-opening, revealing how the impact of gun violence in America extends far beyond our borders.
One of the highlights of the conference was having the honor to speak following Dr. Valentina Baltag, the head of the Adolescent and Young Adult Health Unit of the World Health Organization. Her global perspective on violence against children provided a broader context for the issues we discussed. My presentation, on the other hand, delved into the specific challenges of school gun violence from a US school nurse’s perspective. Both presentations were sobering, shedding light on the urgent global emergency of violence and its lifelong consequences for children and youth.
Listening to the heartfelt responses from school nurses representing different countries, it became evident that the crisis of gun violence in America has far-reaching effects on our colleagues across the world. Many shared their visceral reactions to the ongoing news of gun violence in the US. Some spoke about the trauma experienced in their countries when gun violence erupted in a school, an impact that has continued to reverberate decades beyond the isolated event. One school nurse, overcome with emotion, expressed her fear for the safety of the students she cares for, who choose to come to the US for college.
What struck me most was that this issue transcends national borders. Travel advisories from at least seven countries now warn their citizens to be cautious when visiting the United States due to its gun violence crisis. This concern was openly shared by nurses from the nations attending the School Nurse International Conference, serving as another profound moment for me. It reinforced the global impact gun violence in America has on other countries. I never realized the far-reaching consequences gun violence here could have on continents across the world. I have spent time digesting and synthesizing the lessons learned from participating in an international conference; a first for me, but not the last!
Despite our diverse backgrounds and experiences, the universal language of school nursing was spoken at this conference. Being surrounded by colleagues from around the world provided me with yet another perspective, even after decades of practice. It reinforced the interconnectedness of our roles as school nurses, caring for students’ well-being and safety globally.
The experience of engaging with school nurses from different countries has broadened my understanding and reminded me of the collective impact we can have when we unite in advocating for the health and safety of children and youth worldwide. The conference has left a lasting impression, fueling my passion to continue the work of promoting violence prevention and advocating for a safer and more compassionate world for all.
Published by Robin Cogan, MEd, RN, NCSN, FNASN, FAAN
Robin Cogan, MEd, RN, NCSN, FNASN, FAAN, is a Nationally Certified School Nurse (NCSN), currently in her 22nd year as a New Jersey school nurse in the Camden City School District. Robin is the Director for New Jersey to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) Board. She is proud to be a Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Fellow and past Program Mentor. Robin is the honored recipient of multiple awards for her work in school nursing and population health. These awards include, 2019 and 2020 National Association of School Nurses President’s Award, 2018 NCSN School Nurse of the Year, 2017 Johnson & Johnson School Nurse of the Year, and the New Jersey Department of Health 2017 Population Health Hero Award. Robin serves as faculty in the School Nurse Certificate Program at Rutgers University-Camden School of Nursing, where she teaches the next generation of school nurses. She was presented the 2018 Rutgers University – Camden Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award for Part-time Faculty. Robin writes a weekly blog called The Relentless School Nurse. She also writes a monthly column in My American Nurse, the official journal of the American Nurses Association. Robin’s work is included as a case study in The Future of Nursing Report 2020-2030. You can follow Robin on Twitter at @RobinCogan.
View all posts by Robin Cogan, MEd, RN, NCSN, FNASN, FAAN