… and Dare I Say, Spiritual?

Mission-San-Jose

Mission San Jose, San Antonio TX

Lila-Cockrell-auditorium

Lila Cockrell Theater, San Antonio TX

 

There is something deeply spiritual about being part of a large gathering of nurses who have devoted their careers to protecting and caring for “the least of them”, that is – the sick, the underserved, the students in our care.

This week more than 1200 School Nurses from all fifty states and many foreign countries are gathering in San Antonio for the annual National Association of School Nurses (NASN) Conference. Since most School Nurses are the only medical professional in their school, conference gatherings like this are an a critical way for School Nurses to recharge on several levels. At the level of the conference program the individual conference session titles may address professional development needs along the lines of clinical issues, case management issues, or advocacy issues.  But when you zoom out and look at the conference phenomenon as a whole, you will see how the gathering feeds the spiritual needs of the nurse as well.

The conference begins as a pilgrimage with nurses traveling in and documenting their journeys on facebook and Twitter.  The setting is stately with soaring ceilings.  Traditions of conference regalia such as ribbons and pins continue from year to year.

When I talk to School Nurses about what these annual conferences give them, they mention best practices, newest research, professional contacts but I’d like to offer one more thing only large, live conferences like this can offer: a spiritual strength and knowledge that –

You are part of a long tradition of professional carers.  You are part of something much larger than what goes on in your health room.  What you do makes a difference.

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Why School Nurses need to learn to use our outside voices.

recessAs a School Nurse, I love hearing a teacher say to her class as they reach the playground, “Okay class – it’s okay to use your outside voices now.”  I’m afraid that we School Nurses are still waiting for someone to give us that permission.

Why are nurses in general (and School Nurses in particular) so reluctant to take their professional message to Social Media?  Are we so afraid that we are going to impulsively blurt out HIPAA protected client information?  Are we worried that there might be a prohibition against professional use of Social Media buried on page 132 of the Human Resources Employee Handbook?

It’s part of who we are as nurses to be cautious about client confidentiality and policies and procedures but over and over again School Nurses are confronted by the reality that, if we do not tell our story, someone else will tell the story and cast us as a minor character in the narrative.  School Administrators will write our story for us.  State level agencies will write our story for us.

I want School Nurses to be the ones who tell the story of what School Nursing is and what School Nursing can do.  To do that we have to learn to blog.  We have to learn to tweet.  We have to learn to use our outside voices again.