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DiversityNursing Blog

Alycia Sullivan

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Helping first time moms in need: Nurse-Family Partnership

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, May 21, 2014 @ 12:23 PM


nursefamily resized 600

When Karlina Zambrano was about 13 weeks pregnant, she found a leaflet in her medicaid packet for a program called the Nurse-Family Partnership. The nationwide program would provide a nurse at no charge, who would come to her house weekly or bi-monthly throughout the first two years of her baby’s life. The visits would provide education and resources.

“I thought ‘Why not? It’s more information, more research,’” said Zambrano, now mom to 4-month-old Anthony, who she says is the “most adorable chunk of awesomeness ever.”

Zambrano soon met nurse Gloria Bugarin, who has worked for the Partnership through the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas since 2006.

The Partnership is provided to low income women pregnant with their first child. The goal is to improve pregnancy outcomes, child health and increase “economic self-sufficiency.”

“A lot of it, even though we’re all RNs, is social work,” Bugarin said. She sees many clients who are in abusive relationships and tries to help them find resources to be safe. Others need help finding work or transportation to jobs. And on top of that, they rely on Bugarin to help point them to good child care.

Together, Bugarin helped Zambrano, 27, work on getting her blood pressure down. After Anthony was born (healthy and to term), Bugarin helped her with breastfeeding, which Zambrano desperately wanted to do, but found difficult. And when Zambrano, who had a stack of library books about pregnancy on her table when Bugarin first met her, felt like she wasn’t doing enough “attachment parenting,” Bugarin gave her advice [any new mom could use.]ECHO “To calm me down, she said if you think about a day, you feed him often, you’re there when he cries, you change him. You do everything to make him happy. Each thing you do builds trust in you from him.”

Bugarin took this job after 14 years as an elementary school nurse. She saw a need for parenting programs and early interventions, thinking that could help the countless children she saw coming into school with behavioral problems and developmental delays.

She feels like there are success stories for sure.

In one instance recently, she had a mom who was in a violent relationship with the baby’s father. Bugarin provided her with resources and at at some point after, that mom decided it was time to leave. She’s now living with family and has a job watching her cousin’s 6-month-old so she can keep her baby with her during the day. “From our visits and her desire to have a better life for herself and her baby, she’s making better choices,” Bugarin said.

For Zambrano and her husband, the visits have been incredibly helpful as they don’t really have family nearby. “There was somebody there who would talk to me and answer my questions, who might not be in an extreme rush,” she said. “I can really just open up and speak to her.”

Bugarin will be at the organization’s annual Mother’s Day celebration later this week. Previous graduates will be there, and more than 300 have already RSVP’d, she said excitedly. She is also proud to say she has two clients graduating (which happens when their children turn two) soon. “It is exciting, but also a little sad because we develop a relationship,” she said. One is still continuing with her education and is in the 10th grade. The other is going to college to become a social worker.

“I’m hoping she’ll volunteer or apply to work” with us, Bugarin said.

It should be noted: If you buy a Boppy pillow at Babies R Us during the month of May, the Boppy Company will donate 5 percent of its proceeds in the form of pillows to the Nurse-Family Partnership. The company has donated nearly 10,000 pillows over the last five years. You can also donate directly here until May

Topics: women, low income, Nurse-Family Partnership, health, pregnant, nurses

Commentary: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners Can Help Address Increased Demand for Mental Health Services

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Mon, May 19, 2014 @ 03:30 PM

By Susan Chapman and Bethany J. Phoenix

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Because the Affordable Care Act requires that individual and small-group plans include coverage for mental health care that is comparable to that for general medical care, many analysts expect the demand for mental health services to dramatically increase over the next few years. In California, finding enough mental health providers to meet the demand will be a challenge, as the federal Health Resources and Services Administration has identified 128 Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas in our state.

After documenting vacancy rates for mental health professionals in county-operated mental health programs and state hospitals, the California Mental Health Planning Council suggested that one way to address this shortage is to increase the recruitment and preparation of psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) as primary mental health providers. Given the direction of health care service delivery in the US, perhaps the most important advantage PMHNPs offer is that they are educated in an integrative practice model that stresses connections between physical and mental health and emphasizes health promotion. This is especially critical in public mental health settings, where many patients struggle to get to any health care appointment, much less multiple appointments with multiple providers.

Using PMHNPs to address shortages and increase access to care in public mental health settings, however, faces a number of challenges. To help understand and address these challenges, we are collaborating with the California Institute for Mental Health (CiMH) to conduct a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded study that will include case studies in five California counties with a history of using PMHNPs. The aim is to document best practices, identify unnecessary restrictions on NP practice and formulate strategies to remove these restrictions. By the conclusion of the study in 2015, we hope to have evidence-based information for key stakeholders – from public mental health care systems to state policymakers – about how PMHNPs can help increase access to mental health services in the state.

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One thing the study will allow us to do is examine in more detail presumed barriers that have emerged both anecdotally and from prior research. To begin with, just as with primary care, there is a need to rapidly fill the pipeline by incentivizing existing and future students to work in public mental health. That’s why beginning in 2009, California’s Mental Health Services Act began funding educational stipends to PMHNP students at three schools of nursing, including UC San Francisco. The stipend requires that students “pay back” their stipend by working in a public mental health setting for the equivalent of a year of service for each year of stipend funding.

That’s a fine start, but many of our colleagues across the state are concerned that scope-of-practice laws and the lack of good practice models for PMHNPs in California appear to undermine the effort to prime the pipeline.

For example, UCSF School of Nursing faculty member Aaron Miller was educated in Oregon and says that the biggest difference between the two states is that, “In Oregon, NPs can practice without a collaborative agreement with a physician…and the scope-of-practice law in Oregon contains an explicit description of the NP’s scope of practice: assessment, diagnosis, creation of plan and treatment.” By contrast, he says, in California NPs must always have a collaborative agreement in place with a supervising physician, and in every setting they have to devise agreed-upon standardized procedures that define what the NP can do – essentially, the scope of practice. Moreover, at present, practice models in the state do not facilitate optimal billing for PMHNP services.

Ebony Anderson, one of our former stipend students, says these limitations have dampened her willingness to strike out into independent practice as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Thus, even as many in the state recognize that NPs can provide high-quality care and organizations are starting to utilize NPs’ full scope of practice, a number of factors may be erecting unnecessary obstacles to meeting the mental health needs of many Californians – especially in areas already short on qualified providers. These factors include reimbursement challenges, the effort involved in defining acceptable scope for each setting and finding physicians willing to provide NPs with the mandated level of supervision – and bill for services under their provider numbers, if appropriate.

Our charge, among other things, is to examine how and to what degree these factors affect the state’s ability to meet expected growth in demand for mental health services. Such research is the lifeblood of policy change. Our hope is that the results of our work will enable the state to fully leverage an educational system that is training PMHNPs to deliver outstanding care but, at least at the moment, sending them into a health care system that is not yet taking full advantage of their strengths.

Susan Chapman and Bethany J. Phoenix are leading a study to examine the structural, practice and policy opportunities and barriers that affect psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners’ ability to most effectively use their skills and expertise in public mental health settings. Chapman directs the Health Policy Nursing specialty in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UC San Francisco School of Nursing. Phoenix is vice chair of the School’sDepartment of Community Health Systems and coordinates the School’s Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing specialty. The study is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing National Research Agenda, which is coordinated by the Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Source: Science of Caring

Topics: California, study, ACA, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, nurse practitioners, CiMH

New kids on the block: DC/Maryland/Virginia RNs share thoughts on nursing

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Mon, May 19, 2014 @ 03:05 PM

To mark National Nurses Week, we asked new RNs about what every nurse needs to succeed. Five nurses from the DC/Maryland/Virginia region, all with two years or less of experience, answered the following question: What qualities or characteristics are most important to possess as a nurse, and why? 

Hannah Hanscom, RN, BSN, CPN, clinical nurse, surgical care unit, Children’s National Health System, Washington, D.C.

As a pediatric nurse, I believe there is no one quality or characteristic that is most importanthannah resized 600 to being a nurse. Nurses must be passionate about caring for children and their families and be able to think critically and on their feet. But we also must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with the family, patient and interdisciplinary team. We must be compassionate and able to stay calm when escalating care is needed. Although there is no one quality or characteristic that is most important for nursing, having a passion for the field, for caring for those in need, for educating others and for continuing your own education ties all the other qualities together. Nursing is not just a job or a career. Being a pediatric nurse is in many ways a calling; it is something that comes from the heart and is a lifestyle you must be passionate about. 

Shannon Levin, RN, med/surg unit, Novant Health Haymarket Medical Center, Gainesville, Va.

shannon resized 600Nursing is more complex than ever. Nurses are managing new technologies, constant advances in best practices and more and more patients with multiple morbidities. Nurses must be organized multitaskers, with quick critical thinking skills. But a nurse who possesses empathy for his or her patients is the best kind of nurse. Nurses with genuine empathy understand that we often see patients and their families at one of the most difficult times. Most of our patients are experiencing some level of physical and emotional pain and often feel anxious and fearful about their hospitalization. An empathic nurse cares enough to identify and understand his or her patient’s feelings. The nurse listens to his or her patient’s medical history and current symptoms and eases his or her fear by explaining the need for hospitalization, the plan of care and ordered procedures. These actions help build trust and ultimately are the foundation of a successful nurse-patient bond and remarkable care. 

Rachel Nugent, RN, emergency department, Carroll Hospital Center, Westminster, Md.

rachel resized 600 It takes many characteristics to be a nurse. I believe the most important characteristics to possess are empathy, compassion, hope, patience and good communication skills. Being empathetic for patients and also for their families shows true compassion. Nurses must give patients a sense of hope when they may be at the lowest point in their lives. Nurses smile, and with that smile, a positive perception is given to patients and their families. Patience with not only yourself, but with patients, family members, doctors and coworkers is a must. Nurses must know when to speak up for themselves or their patients and when to intervene - especially when they suspect something may be wrong. Nurses advocate for their patients when they are in dire need. And, finally, one of the most important parts of communication is that nurses must always be great listeners, even after a long 12 hour shift. 

Brooke Schautz, RN, emergency department, MedStar Harbor Hospital, Baltimore

brooke resized 600To be successful, flexibility is the single most important attribute a nurse should have. Throughout nursing school you are taught many skills to prepare you. However, there are some things that cannot be taught, yet are essential to becoming a nurse. As with most things in life, having the right balance is equally as important. Being flexible, yet having the ability to stay focused, is critical to ensure you are providing excellent care to your patients. 

Mandy Ward, RN, emergency services, Novant Health Prince William Medical Center, Manassas, Va.

mandy resized 600 There are quite a few qualities that are important to possess as a nurse, but I would have tosay the most important one would be compassion. Compassion is listening to a patient, showing him or her sincere concern, being kind and showing empathy. 
Our patients look to us to help them when they are most vulnerable. It is up to us to help them when they need it, and we can start by showing them compassion and that we truly care about them. Compassion alone isn’t enough; but, by showing compassion, it makes a big difference for those that we take care of. 


Topics: success, qualities, characteristics, what makes a great nurse, nurse

Mazvita Ethel Simoyi: Nursing experience paid off in medical school

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Mon, May 19, 2014 @ 02:28 PM

By Eric Swensen

While 12-hour weekend shifts for nurses are typical, it’s not common to do it while alsoMazvita Ethel Simoyi: Nursing experience paid off in medical school attending medical school full-time. But that’s what Mazvita Ethel Simoyi did during her first year at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, commuting every weekend to a hospital in Washington, D.C. to help pay for her education.

Now set to earn her M.D. degree from UVA this month, Simoyi laughed when asked how she endured the relentless schedule of work, schoolwork and commuting.

“I honestly do not know how I did it,” she said. “Necessity makes you rise to the occasion.”

Working Toward a Lifelong Dream

Simoyi knew she wanted to be a doctor from the time she was 5 or 6, when her father, Dr. Mike Simoyi, a general practitioner in Zimbabwe, brought her to his clinic to observe a tubal ligation. “I stood on a stool in the operating room, looking at him make the incision,” she said.

As she got older, she helped direct patients at the clinic where her father worked with her mother Regina, a nurse. The time she spent there deepened her commitment to medicine.

“The patients [at my parents’ clinic] are very, very grateful for the help they receive,” she said. “My father is also very involved in public health, and educating people at a time when HIV and AIDS was beginning to get a lot of attention. That’s why I wanted to be a doctor – so I could help people and share my knowledge with them.”

To continue her path toward becoming a doctor, Simoyi came to the U.S. from Zimbabwe at age 17 to attend college. After beginning as a biology/pre-med major at Butler University, she transferred to Howard University in Washington, D.C., earning a nursing degree in 2007. She went into nursing so she could earn a living while taking the remaining pre-requisite classes for medical school and “ensure that medicine was 100 percent what I wanted to do.”

After three years working as a nurse, she entered UVA’s School of Medicine in 2010. But she wasn’t quite done with nursing.

Full-Time Medical Student, Part-Time Nurse

During her first year as a med student, Simoyi worked weekends on a medical/surgical/oncology inpatient unit at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C. She would leave Charlottesville around 5 p.m. Thursday or Friday for Washington, staying with her sister Nyasha or friends from Howard University when she wasn’t at work. She would return to Charlottesville around midnight Sunday to get some sleep before waking up at 7 a.m. Monday to begin another week of med school classes.

During her second year as a medical student, she worked part-time in Charlottesville as a hospice nurse. She continued working as a nurse until November 2012, when she was no longer able to work weekends due to her medical school clerkship.

“Time management was what really saved me,” she said.

Her commitment both to her education and her jobs impressed her classmates and faculty. “I was blown away by her work ethic,” said Chad Lane, a member of her medical school class.

As a part-time pharmacist during his time in medical school, Simoyi’s residency adviser, Dr. Shawn Pelletier, knows firsthand how tough her balancing act was. “It’s a lot of work,” he said. “While other people are studying or relaxing, you’re spending time working to pay tuition.”

The intelligent way Simoyi approached her dual responsibilities helped her do both successfully, said her adviser, Dr. Christine Peterson. “She knew exactly what she wanted to do. She’s very grounded and very realistic,” Peterson said. “She found nursing jobs that would mesh with the enormous amount of hours required for her studies.”

Simoyi also believes the extra hours she put in as a nurse helped with her medical school class work. “When I was reading information from a textbook, I could translate it to my patients. It helped solidify the concepts because I could apply it right away instead of waiting two years [to begin my clerkship],” she said.

When Simoyi did a four-week rotation in transplant surgery with Pelletier, he saw that “she already had the textbook answers, had digested that and had moved onto the next step.” In some cases, the only reply Pelletier had to her questions was: “That’s a good question – we’re trying to figure out the answer to that.”

While her nursing work left her less time to spend outside of class with her fellow students, Simoyi said she very much enjoyed her time at UVA. Her classmates were very welcoming and inclusive, and she appreciated that she was part of a large group of students who had taken non-traditional journeys to medical school.

“I was happy to see how many people had taken different paths, like IT and working as financial advisers,” she said.

Giving Back to Zimbabwe

This summer, Simoyi will begin a surgical residency at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. She chose surgery because she likes to work with her hands, figure out what’s wrong with a patient and quickly see results.

“You fix an artery, and you get to see the effects of your work immediately,” she said.

While she’s not sure whether she will end up practicing medicine in the U.S. or Zimbabwe, Simoyi definitely wants to give back to Zimbabwe. “I want to have some impact in Zimbabwe, even if I’m not there physically. I want to do something to make health care better, either in education or through standards of care for patients.”

Her classmates and teacher believe she is primed to succeed in whatever challenge she takes on next.

“Surgery is physically demanding and it requires mental toughness,” classmate Pranay Sinha said. “You have to be tough to go through what she has gone through.”

Source: University of Virigina Health System

Topics: University of Virginia, Mazvita Ethel Simoyi, medical school, hard work, dedication, nursing

Forensic Nursing: C.S.I. Meets E.R.

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Mon, May 19, 2014 @ 11:57 AM

Forensic Nursing

Topics: forensics, legal systems, forensic nursing, nursing, health

The Modern Nurse

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, May 07, 2014 @ 12:07 PM

The Modern Nurse Infographic

© 2014 Travel Nurse Source

Topics: modern nurse, diversity, infographic

American Nurses Association Celebrates National Nurses Week; 1.1 Million More RNs Needed

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, May 07, 2014 @ 11:19 AM

Source: Digital Journal

National Nurses Week traditionally is a time to recognize the crucial contributions registered nurses (RN) make to individuals' health and the U.S. health care system; this year, it's also a time to sound a note of urgency about the future, as projections signal the need to fill about 1.1 million RN jobs by 2022.

The 2014 National Nurses Week theme is "Nurses: Leading the Way," emphasizing nurses' roles in improving the quality of health care; participating as key members of collaborative, performance-based health care teams; and continually advocating to ensure patients remain the focal point of health care. National Nurses Week takes place May 6-12, ending on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

"All nurses are leaders, whether they are in direct patient care, administrative roles, or meeting consumers' needs in new roles such as care coordinators or wellness coaches," said ANA President Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN. "This week, we acknowledge nurses' vast contributions, as well as the need to develop the nursing workforce to meet our growing needs and improve the health of the nation."

As nurses assume more leadership roles in a system that is transforming its focus to emphasize primary care, prevention, wellness, chronic disease management, and coordination of care, a confluence of factors is driving the need for a huge increase in the number of RNs. About 11 million individuals have gained better access to health care through private health insurance marketplaces and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act; Baby Boomers are projected to swell Medicare rolls by 50 percent by 2025; and 53 percent of nurses are over age 50 and nearing retirement, according to a National Council of State Boards of Nursing survey.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 1.1 million jobs for nurses between 2012 and 2022 – more than 500,000 each for newly created jobs and replacements for retiring nurses. Registered nurse is ranked second in projected new job growth among all occupations from 2012 to 2022, with 527,000 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To achieve that level of growth, ANA recommends four actions: 

  • Increase funding for federal Nursing Workforce Development Programs (known as Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act, which marks its 50th anniversary this year). Funding generally has stayed level in recent years for these programs that assist in educating, training, and placing new nurses in areas of need.
  • Recruit more nursing professors and increase incentives. Nursing faculty salaries generally are lower than what many faculty members could earn in clinical practice (an average of $68,640 compared to more than $91,000 for nurse practitioners). Many nursing professors also are nearing retirement age – nearly 3 of 4 are over age 50 – and will need to be replaced.
  • Ensure an adequate number of clinical training sites so nursing students can fulfill educational requirements.
  • Encourage hospitals and other employers to hire new nursing graduates now to benefit from mentoring from experienced RNs, and to mitigate the impact of the projected exodus of seasoned RNs in the coming years.

Read the full story at

Topics: jobs, National Nurses Week, growth, leadership

Leading the Way: Nurses recognized for improving health care

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, May 07, 2014 @ 11:10 AM


Wherever health care is provided, a nurse is likely to be there.

Nurses_Lizeth_Martinez-DP-1.jpgTuesday marks the start of National Nurses Week, an annual opportunity for communities to recognize the full range of nurses’ contributions. This year’s theme, “Nurses: Leading the Way,” recognizes nurses as leaders in the field.

Nurses are being honored as leaders who improve the quality of health care. Nurses practice in diverse roles, such as clinicians, administrators, researchers, educators and policymakers.

Lizeth Martinez, a registered nurse at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, said every nurse is different.

“We each have our scope of practice and me, personally, I always try to be there for my patients,” Martinez said. “From what I have seen I am very fortunate to work with the people that I do.”

Martinez, who was born and raised in Brownsville, is currently working on a graduate degree in nursing at the University of Texas at Brownsville and should be finished by next year.

She said that in the two and half years that she’s been a nurse she has gained a lot of experience.

“I love being a nurse,” Martinez said. “As nurses we care in a different way, in a compassionate and holistic manner promoting health and healing.”

However, being a nurse is not without its challenges, said Martinez, who mainly works with wound care and diabetes patients.

“I think the most challenging thing about being a nurse is the emotional aspect because we see a lot of patients that are chronically ill,” Martinez said.

Garett Byrd, a pediatric registered nurse at Harlingen Medical Center, has worked in the nursing field for nine years.

Byrd, whose parents were nurses, said the profession has changed a lot during that time.

“Over the years I’ve noticed an increase in accountability and technology,” Byrd said. “The nursing profession has moved towards a more evidenced based practice. Were not doing things just to do them, were researching and going by the research.”

He said the community should keep one thing in mind.

“The community needs to remember that we’re human beings too, and we’re here because we care,” Byrd said.

Both Martinez and Byrd said nurses are leaders in the health profession.

“I think we are leaders. The profession is so amazing because there are so many things you can do, so many fields you can go into,” Martinez said.

“As nurses were able to provide and coordinate care and think those aspects of leadership position.”

Karen A. Daley, president of the American Nurses Association, agrees.Nurses_Garett_Byrd_DSC05075.jpg

“All nurses are leaders, whether they are in direct patient care, administrative roles or meeting consumers’ needs in new roles such as care coordinators or wellness coaches,” Daley said.

“This week, we acknowledge nurses’ vast contributions and how they are leading the way in improving health care and ultimately, the health of the nation.”

Nurses are leading initiatives to increase access to care and improve outcomes by focusing on primary care, prevention, wellness, chronic disease management and the coordination of care among health care providers and settings.

These are areas in which nurses excel given their education and experience, the ANA said.

According to the ANA, nursing is the nation’s largest health care profession, with nearly 3 million employed professionals and is projected to grow faster than all other occupations.

The federal government projects that more than 1 million new registered nurses will be needed by 2022 to fill new jobs and replace nurses who leave the profession.

Demand for nursing care will grow rapidly as Baby Boomers swell Medicare enrollment by 50 percent by 2025 and millions of individuals obtain new or better access to care under the health care reform law, the ANA said.

Source: Valley Morning Star 

Topics: National Nurses Week, healthcare, nurses, improve

Five Ways to Thank a Nurse on National Nurses Day

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, May 07, 2014 @ 11:05 AM

National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6th to raise awareness of the important role nurses play in society. This day also marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, which ends on May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. Nightingale is considered the founder of professional nursing due to her pioneering work during the Crimean War of 1853-1856 and her establishment of the first secular nursing school in London.

Here are five ways to say 'thank you' to a nurse who has touched you or a loved one this year:

  1. Say it with caffeine: Nurses work long and late hours. A gift card to a coffee shop is a practical and much appreciated token of thanks.
  2. Say it out loud, Facebook style: Consider a big social media shout-out on your Facebook page. Tag your nurse friends, but make it public to all.
  3. Say it with soles: On their feet for long shifts, the quest for the perfect pair of nursing shoes can be eased with a gift certificate to a local or online nursing supply store.
  4. Say it with a letter: Handwritten thank-you notes are still an excellent way to share your feelings and boost the recipient's day.
  5. Say it with food: Every workplace enjoys a thoughtful basket of food from a grateful customer. Just make sure to include enough for the team.
Source: PR Newswire

Topics: National Nurses Day, appreciation, thank you

What is the Priority?

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, May 02, 2014 @ 11:29 AM

By Teresia Odessey of Bloomfield College

As a nursing student, I have had the privilege of observing many nurses in different units; pediatrics, maternity, the burn unit, hospice, medical surgical, ICU, CCU, wound rounds, and psychiatry. I’ve realized from these experiences that school nurses are by far the most unappreciated and de-valued. As I gathered information on the role of school nurses, and shadowed an elementary school nurse for my senior capstone project, I discovered the challenges faced by school nurses. 

Contrary to popular belief, the school nurse’s role is critical to the well-being of students’ health and academic achievements. The scope of practice for the school nurse includes supervision of school health policies and procedures; promotion of health education; health services; competence of interventions; facilitation of health care screenings; making referrals to other healthcare providers; patient advocacy and maintenance of the appropriate environment to promote health. This role requires the nurse to be knowledgeable and competent in various skills and interventions. School nurses provide care, support and teaching for diabetes, asthma, allergies, seizures, obesity, mental health, and immunizations to all students (Beshears & Ermer, 2013).  The role of the school nurse as defined by the National Association of School Nurses is as follows: “a specialized practice of professional nursing that advances the well-being, academic success and lifelong achievement and health of students” (Board, Bushmiaer, Davis-Alldritt, Fekaris, Morgitan, Murphy &Yow, 2011). 

Clearly, it is not just about Band-Aids and ice packs but still 25% of US schools have no nurse present and 16% of students have a medical condition that warrants a skilled professional (Taliaferro, 2008).  One in every 400 children under 20 years is diagnosed with diabetes; 10% of students nationwide have asthma; prevalence of school allergies have increased drastically; 45,000 students are diagnosed with seizures each year; obesity rate has tripled among children 6 to 11 years, and more than tripled for children 12 to 19; and one in five students have mental health issues (Beshears & Ermer, 2013).  

Despite having laws allowing disabled children to attend school, increasing the workload on the nurses, there are no laws that mandate a nurse to student ratio. The national recommendation for nurse to student ratio is 1:750 but on average some nurses are responsible for up to 4,000 students (Resha, 2010). Nwabuzor (2007) mentioned that parents and stakeholders cannot truly advocate for more school nurses because most of them do not comprehend the role, responsibilities, and advantages of having a school nurse. The major reason for the school nurse shortage is the lack of legislation on school nursing; not enough funding, and no laws forcing schools to hire nurses. Therefore, many educational facilities have opted to hire unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP) instead. 

 Yes, it is likely more cost effective to hire UAP’s instead of Registered Nurses but that does not make it acceptable. It is my belief that we have different titles and scopes of practice for a reason. I find it mind boggling that some schools do not have school nurses. How is it that some parents are comfortable with sending their children to a school without a nurse? Is it that they don’t inquire about the presence of a school nurse? Or could it be that maybe they assume that every school has a full-time nurse? I wonder if some parents are aware of the nurse to student ratio at their child’s school. Yes, there are budget cuts due to many reasons but why do these schools say they don’t have enough funding to hire a school nurse but they have six assistant coaches for any one of the sports? So yet my question remains unanswered: what is the priority?



Beshears, V., & Ermer, P. (2013). SCHOOL NURSING: It's Not What You Think!. Arkansas

Nursing News, 9(2), 14-18. 

Board, C., Bushmiaer, M., Davis-Alldritt, L., Fekaris, N., Morgitan, J., Murphy, K., &Yow, B. (2011, April). Role of the school nurse. Retrieved from

Nwabuzor, O. (2007, February). Legislative: "Shortage of Nurses: The School Nursing Experience." Online  Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol12 No 2. doi:10.3912/OJIN.Vol12No02LegCol01

Resha, C., (2010, May 31) "Delegation in the School Setting: Is it a Safe Practice?" OJIN: The

Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 15, No. 2, Manuscript 5. doi:


Topics: school nurse, education, health care, underappreciated, senior capstone

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