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Innovative support for primary care school nurses

School nurse Lori S. Anderson, PhD is the author of our current “Editor’s Pick” article titled “The Development and Implementation of eSchoolCare: A Novel Health Care Support System for School Nurses.”  In this article Dr. Anderson describes the eSchoolCare program that provides support for 97 school nurses in 67 rural school districts in South-Central Wisconsin.  The article provides background, theoretical framework, implementation and evaluation of this innovative project. Dr. Anderson shared for ANS readers her own background in school nursing, and why this project is so important for nurses who are primary care providers in schools, and for the children and families they serve:

My introduction to school nursing came early. My mother was a long-time school nurse and during my high school years I helped her out during vision and hearing screenings. I loved the independence of her work and the focus on improving the health and well being of school-age children. So following suit, my first job fresh out of nursing school was in a rural school system in southern Wisconsin.  I was responsible for 4,500 students in

Dr. Lori Anderson

Dr. Lori Anderson

six separate school buildings. I quickly learned two things, that the downside of the independent practice was a sense of isolation and that while I had hoped to make an impact on the health and wellness of students through teaching and other prevention activities, my time was largely spent caring for children with chronic health issues, some serious. The seeds for the eSchoolCare project were sown during this time. While I could pick up a phone and call my school-nurse-mother for support and expert guidance, many school nurses were and still are left looking for evidence-based resources to guide their practice and for support to decrease the sense of isolation.

Julia Lear, director of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools at George Washington University, has used the phrase “hidden health care system” to describe the large number of professionals who provide care to children and youth in schools across the United States. Most of these professionals are nurses and the health care needs they attend to are becoming increasingly numerous and complex. The Affordable Care Act encourages community-based services, yet policy makers and those in the traditional health care arena have little knowledge about this “hidden” system of care.

Nurses are also providing care in homes, workplaces, and long-term care facilities, among others. These community settings provide challenges to nurses similar to those encountered in schools, problematic communication with traditional health services, isolation, and difficulty accessing evidence-based resources to guide care. The solution to these complex challenges will be multi-dimensional. But technology now allows us to bring resources and support to nurses in these settings in a way that we had not done before. Our eSchoolCare project uses mobile technology to bring the expertise and resources of an academic healthcare setting to the nurse in the community, decreasing their sense of isolation and providing them with evidence-based approaches to care delivery. Think of it as the online version of having a “mom” nurse expert on the other end of the phone line.

We are eager to hear your comments and ideas about this important project!  Visit the ANS web site now to download your copy of this article at no charge, and share your comments here!

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nancy Berry, BSN, RN #

    As a primary care RN in a rural setting in Indiana, I understand everything Dr. Anderson talked about in the article. I am the health care coordinator for my school corporation. My question is, can I get access to the eSchoolCare program? It sounds like an awesome program!

    December 3, 2013
    • Thank you so much for connecting! I have asked Dr. Anderson to share another blog post that gives more detail about how to connect with the eSchoolCare program. Look for it on the main blog page – it is today’s post! Best wishes with this important work you are doing!

      December 5, 2013
  2. Dorene Flores #

    I think this is a wonderful idea. I am not an RN, I am a Health Aide at a private school and would love to be able to be in contact with School nurses, and others in this position. I worked under an RN while working in a private school, but now it seems like I am on island by myself. Because I work at a private school, I am not sure how much the administrators would be willing to pay for a program like this.

    December 3, 2013
    • Thank you so very much for commenting on this inspiring article! Indeed, being isolated in this kind of work is a huge challenge so I am glad that we are able to provide information in ANS that can inspire ways to find connections. I asked Dr. Anderson to write a bit more about how to connect for support. Again, thank you for letting us hear from you!

      December 5, 2013
  3. ange #

    I am a school nurse in New Zealand and feel the same isolation and lack of guidance how can I access this

    December 3, 2013
    • Thank you so much for being in touch on this, and letting us hear from you! I asked Dr. Anderson to write another blog message that gives the information about how to access this resource for everyone to see! It is posted on the main blog page today!

      December 5, 2013
  4. I am a certified school nurse, been in the school 22years, this seems like a great idea!

    December 3, 2013
    • So glad you found this article! And thank you for giving this feedback!

      December 5, 2013

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