The Moses Taylor Foundation (MTF) was established in 2012 from the sale of Moses Taylor Health Care System. Their mission is to improve the health of people in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Their service area includes 11 Counties: Bradford, Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming. Included in the Foundation’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan is a new initiative to support school nurses in their efforts to address the health needs of students in Northeastern Pennsylvania. As a first step towards this fulfilling this core strategy, the Foundation contracted with NASN (National Association of School Nurses) to conduct a needs assessment of school nurses throughout the region, identifying the barriers they face to meeting the health needs of their students, as well as potential solutions to support them in overcoming these barriers. This partnership forged with NASN provided the vast knowledge and resources of this national organization.
The MTF understood that project coordination would benefit from an understanding of the role of the school nurse. To achieve this, Christine Marcos, Program Officer of the Moses Taylor Foundation, “immersed herself”. She attended the PASNAP conference last March. By going to meetings and talking with groups of school nurses, she got a glimpse into the profession. Dr. Erin Maughan, Director of Research at NASN, was selected to spearhead the research project. PASNAP members in the NE Region were tapped to provide NASN with background on school nursing in PA and an overview of the MTF 11 county service area. To conduct the assessment, NASN deployed both an online survey for local school nurses and other district personnel, as well as in person convenings and one-on-one interviews from September 2019 through November 2019. In addition, Dr. Maughn presented free continuing education opportunities in Wilkes-Barre and Peckville in October 2019 to school nurses as a thank you for their participation.
In addition, PAPSA Executive Director Dr. Douglas Arnold provided assistance in getting the survey out to member school districts in the MTF service area, resulting in partnerships developing with both PASNAP and NASN.
Moving forward, once the assessment is completed in the spring of 2020, MTF looks forward to using the results to shape its school nurse funding strategy. Time will be spent gathering feedback from the results, then considering the next steps before an anticipated public release in the fall of 2020 when findings will be shared with the rest of the community. Christine Marcos, MTF Program Officer shared these comments: “We are so appreciative of PASNAP’s significant help in making this needs assessment a success. [Their] efforts have really helped take this project far beyond our expectations. We went into this work expecting the information we needed to develop our funding strategy going forward, but now we see so many other opportunities emerging, such as the potential to use this information for advocacy efforts, for general community education about the role of the school nurses and why it is important that we all support that, as well as to educate our fellow funders about the impact school nurses have on student health.” She added that anyone who is interested in more information about this work is welcome to contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for preliminary findings of the survey when they are shared this spring.
Thanks to Kathy Verbel, M.Ed., BSN, RN, NCSN for the information provided in this article.