The current ANS featured article addresses a hidden, but urgent, threat to the health of children. The article is titled “School Nurses’ Awareness and Attitudes Toward Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children” authored by Hannah E. Fraley, PhD, RN; Teri Aronowitz, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, FAAN; and Emily J. Jones, PhD, RNC-OB. We are offering continuing education credit with this article because this type of challenge is significant for all nurses. This study reveals the key roles that nurses play in protecting the health and well-being of people who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. The article is available to download at no cost while it is featured, and we invite you to read it, and share your comments here! Dr. Fraley has shared this information about her work for ANS blog readers!
I am a nurse educator and scholar and am passionate about vulnerable populations, health disparities, health access, and human rights. With an extensive background in working with vulnerable women and children, I have developed a focused research program targeting youth
violence prevention and risk reduction. As I became aware of the nation-wide problem of child sex trafficking I knew that nurses are in such a pivotal position to be able to identify trafficking victims and intervene. Further, in my extensive study of child trafficking in the U.S. I was led to the unique and frontline role specifically of school nurses; school nurses have routine interaction with youth and are often the only health care provider youth interact with. I knew that school nurses can intervene and prevent child sexual exploitation, but also knew from studying the health care provider role that providers may lack awareness of child sex trafficking and also may have negative perceptions about youth who are most vulnerable impeding identification and intervention. Understanding that perceptions that we internally hold are shaped by our own life experiences and also shaped by societal and institutional influences became the backbone of my work with school nurses given youth who are most at risk of sexual exploitation are often those whom society, institutions, ourselves label as ‘difficult to work with’ or ‘trouble’. These children cross their school nurses’ path day in and day out and their exploitation may not be seen or recognized due to low awareness of sex trafficking coupled with shaped perceptions. This has become the driving force of my work aiming to build sustainable programs for school nurses and multidisciplinary school teams targeting prevention of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
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
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!