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The practice of nursing in a school setting is NOT a spectator sport…

By Wendy Niskanen posted 10-03-2018 15:52


How many of us have come in early or stayed late to ensure safe care is planned for a new student? Who has picked up glasses for one student… or found a pair of shoes for another?  Have you stayed to teach about glucagon… at 4:30 in the afternoon... when a coach (who just participated in an epinephrine administration training) tells you that he really needs the “diabetes one” and his team can’t go to tomorrow’s game if he does not have the training? We have all stayed, and found, and taught, and most likely wept for or cheered on our students and their families. We are fully engaged in the care of our students!

Having said this, there is one important aspect of school nursing in Oregon in which we can each be less of a spectator. For so many reasons, we are perched at a tipping point, carrying great forward momentum...

Legislatively we have seen several victories in recent years; we now have a State School Nurse Consultant at OHA; a recent School Nursing Task Force made recommendations to the legislature and ONA released a report entitled “Unhealthy Schools: The Alarming Decline of School Nurses in Oregon;” and we have champions working to explore medicaid billing as a source of school health funding. School nurses and their advocates have used their voices, and the State is listening.

The OSNA Board has strengthened in numbers and charted a course to empower school nurses in Oregon. At the Third Annual Leadership Retreat, the Board and several members of the Legislative and Membership Committees engaged in strategic planning and began concrete development of several core projects; the creation of a Mentor Program and the development of Care Planning Templates and a Self-Advocacy Tool Kit.  Together we moved beyond “we wish we could” into “we already are.”

Our State School Nurse Consultant, Jamie Smith, is engaged in several projects including work to establish a school nursing framework for Oregon school nurses which will include the development and adoption of Oregon Scope & Standards of School Nursing Practice and evidence based protocols for management of chronic conditions in schools. This work ties in well with the top strategic goal of OSNA, the development of a school nursing framework which will ensure that evidence based, high quality care is practiced universally throughout the state.

With momentum like this, we are at a critical time when school nurses must come down onto the playing field; we must leave the spectator’s bleachers and engage in the process of strengthening school nursing in Oregon.  We must participate actively in our professional organization, working with community partners to make real gains, so that Oregon is no longer ranked 48th in the United States in student access to school nursing. Because we are stretched so thin, with such enormous caseloads and high acuity students, it will take every one of us.  

We all know that the practice of school nursing is not a spectator sport… neither is our Membership in OSNA! What can you do to strengthen school nursing in Oregon?

  • Keep an eye on the OSNA website for advocacy information and calls to action
    • Write letters or call your legislators.
    • Prepare and deliver testimony in support of legislation.
  • Attend OSNA’s amazing conferences:
    • Fall 11/2/2018 @ Randall Children's Hospital
    • Spring 4/18-19/2019 @ Hallmark Resort in Newport, OR
  • Participate on an OSNA committee (Membership, Conference Planning, Legislative, Finance, etc.) or in another leadership role.
  • Follow School Nurse Net (the OSNA listserve) to learn more about the projects and opportunities (large and small) which you can support to keep our momentum going!