Across the nation, school nurses are critical to health of their students and their communities. Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden will bolster its mission of educating school nurses to address the complex and increasingly demanding health needs of students and their communities within the state.
The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) award – one of only five given in the state – will help fund an innovative expansion of the school’s post-baccalaureate School Nurse Certification Program to a graduate-level program in nursing practice with a focus on population health.
The grant will enable Rutgers University–Camden faculty to look at the current certification program and make the transition from focusing on the health of individual students to addressing the determinants of health affecting students in their communities, says Joy Atkins, an instructor in the nursing certification program, who co-wrote the grant with fellow instructor Robin Cogan and Sharon Conway, director of the school nurse certification program at Rutgers–Camden.
“School nurses need education in population health, as well as the advanced leadership skills necessary to work with other community leaders to change the systems, policies, and environments that influence health,” says Atkins.
Atkins, along with her School of Nursing–Camden faculty collaborators Sharon Conway and Robin Cogan, published the journal article "Redesigning School Nursing Education in New Jersey to Address the Challenges and Opportunities of Population Health" in the March 2017 issue of the National Association of School Nurses. The article discusses the redesign of a program’s curriculum with the hope of advancing and elevating the practice of school nursing.