Empowerment with Data: School Nurses Gain Leadership Skills
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - More than 60 nurses from Arkansas public schools will take time out of their summer to explore the many ways to use data to improve school health care. At the fifth annual School Nurse Summer Institute, they will participate in three days of workshops on the theme of "Expanding Your Career in School Health: Empowerment with Data."
Organized by the University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, in conjunction with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Area Health Education Center Northwest, the institute will be held from 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., August 3-5 at the AHEC Northwest Building III-Lecture Hall, 2855 E. Joyce Boulevard, Fayetteville. Participating nurses are eligible for 17.1 hours of continuing education credits.
Reed Greenwood, dean of the UA College of Education and Health Professions, said, "With the School Nurse Summer Institute, the faculty members of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing are making an important contribution to nursing and to the well being of children in the public schools. We are pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from UAMS to improve health care in Arkansas schools."
Kathleen Barta, associate professor in the Mann School, explained that the overall goal of the School Nurse Summer Institute is to encourage leadership by school nurses in their districts. Given that about half of the school nurses have returned from last year, she is confident that the institute is "uniquely meeting the needs of school nurses to network with each other and to develop as health care professionals."
"Leadership informed by data is critical for effective planning and evaluation," Barta said. "Nurses anticipate new standards for nutrition and recommended standards for physical activity in the public schools. Implementing these standards will be a wonderful opportunity for school nurses to provide leadership to make an impact on the health and academic achievement of their students. As health leaders in the schools, nurses need to be prepared to collect, analyze and recommend change based on data from their schools."
During the institute, nurses will be introduced to many facets of gathering and using data in the schools. Marianne Neighbors, professor in the Mann School, will open the institute with a presentation titled "The Power of Data." In two other presentations, Barta will discuss the features of evidencebased practice and introduce participants to a recently published guideline on increasing physical activity in the school setting. She and Neighbors will guide participants in the development of an action plan for the upcoming school year.
"I want school nurses to see that the data they work with every day can be transformed into information, examined for trends and used to create evidence-based knowledge necessary for providing safe and effective care for school children and their families," Barta said.
Jeff Collins, director of the UA Center for Business and Economic Research and an expert in databased policy development, will introduce participants to a wide range of national data sources that can be used for benchmarking. Wendy Sisson, an advanced practice nurse and former Springdale school nurse, will help nurses locate the most useful information in the professional literature. Karen Kerr, a nurse in the Gravette public schools, will discuss clinical tools useful in data collection.
Shirley Borhauer, state representative from Benton County and a former school nurse, will share her insights into the ways legislators use data to make policy.
Another UA faculty member, Katherine Shurlds of the journalism department, will present various methods of communicating with stakeholders, including publishing newsletters. Participants will leave with several ideas on how they can inform their local school communities about health issues. In addition, Cammi Marti, a marketing consultant with a background in nursing and public health, will offer ways to package data and market ideas.