Essay by C. Ashlaw

Excellence in School Nursing

Excellence in school nursing is viable and visible in every aspect of the profession.  From their origins, school nurses have set out to promote healthy lifestyles and maintain optimal health status among children.  Since the Chicago Public Schools School Nurse Program inception in 1951, school nursing has had a meaningful impact on the lives of every student educated in the Chicago Public Schools.  A true commitment by several pioneering women brought public health measures to previously underserved children.  Over the last fifty years, the profession has continued to flourish into a true specialty, with its heart solidly in health education promotion.

The connection between health and education has been fostered via school nursing.  It has been proven time and again that healthy children perform better in school, have better attendance, and have improved social interactions.  While children vary in what their optimal health status is, school nursing is often the link that allows all students to benefit from an appropriate educational setting.

The school nursing colleagues with whom I have worked, have been a constant source of inspiration to strive for the best.  As in history, the profession of school nursing continues to be driven by strong, committed, compassionate individuals.  The school nurse is flexible, adaptable, and always an advocate for students.  I continue to marvel at the outstanding people who have dedicated their lives to the improvement of health status for the students of Chicago.  These colleagues continue to be wonderful, offering words of expertise regarding educational policy, management of clinical issues in the educational institution, and support through difficult times.  I often feel that we have all been called to do this job from many different areas in life.  All school nurses bring their own special attributes to the job.  A sense of humor, strong clinical skills, a gentle touch, and further education all assist students in need.  As I reflect upon school nursing, the scope and impact of this profession instills immense pride.  I feel as if I have found my mission in my choice to become a school nurse.

The future of school nursing is exciting and full of possibilities.  School nurses are increasingly called upon as advocates for the students in major life situations.  Many initiatives that truly assist students and make their lives better are to be lead by school nurses.  I look forward to the future and embrace the challenges ahead for our profession.

I continue to be inspired to further my education in order to better serve the students of the Chicago Public Schools.  I believe that education is key toward meeting the ever challenging and changing educational climate of today.  The passion for knowledge has always driven school nursing.

In conclusion, I am proud of the relationships I have developed with students, their families, and my colleagues.  These relationships continue to drive me toward further academic goals.  As I reflect on my nursing career, I am proudest of the time I have spent working as a school nurse for the Chicago Public Schools.

Catherine Ashlaw