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MEDIA CONTACT: Susan Feinberg

FAU Partners with Palm Beach County’s School Health Program to Assist School Nurses in Adapting to their Changing Roles

             BOCA RATON, FL (September 4, 2007) - In the last decade, the job of the school nurse has become more demanding as students are coming to school sicker than ever before. There has been an almost fourfold increase in childhood obesity in the past three decades, twice the asthma rates since the 1980s, and a jump in the number of attention-deficit disorder cases, according to researchers at Harvard University. Parents often expect schools to assume responsibility for many aspects of their children’s physical, emotional and social well-being.

The clinical nurse leader program (CNL) at Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing is currently partnering with the school health program of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County to help school nurses adapt to their changing roles and improve the health of more than 170,000 children in elementary, middle and high school.

This innovative collaboration is the first of its kind in the country. Palm Beach County is the largest school district in the nation to have a full-time nurse caring for students on-site at every public school.

The CNL program, part of a national pilot sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, is a groundbreaking, master’s level nursing program that equips nurses with advanced clinical assessment and leadership skills to help patients and their families as they move through today’s complex continuum of care. Clinical nurse leaders integrate evidence-based practice into daily care to improve patient safety, health outcomes and organizational systems.

“There is a growing recognition around the country that we urgently need to improve the health care of our children,” said Rose Sherman, assistant professor of nursing and program director of the Nursing Leadership Institute at FAU’s College of Nursing. “The clinical nurse leader program will help school nurses in Palm Beach County to meet this challenge and achieve the goals of Healthy People 2010 with our cutting-edge curriculum which emphasizes nursing leadership and improving patient care at the point of delivery.”

Colleen Morgan, who was named “School Nurse of the Year” by the Florida Association of School Nurses in 2006, is the first school nurse to graduate from the CNL program at FAU’s College of Nursing. After Morgan earns national certification, she will begin working in her new role as a clinical nurse leader.   In that capacity, she will support two nursing supervisors and 42 school nurses in Delray Beach and Boca Raton with the health care management of all students, focusing on students that have acute and chronic health conditions. Two other school nurses with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County are currently CNL students in the FAU nursing program.

Morgan hopes to support and empower novice nurses, who often feel overwhelmed. She wants to focus on improving clinical research, care planning and case management, and implementing additional wellness and prevention policies, and educational opportunities. “School nurses often don’t have time to develop these broad scope programs which benefit students,” she said.

For the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, program planning in coordination with FAU’s College of Nursing began in 2004.   Morgan’s recent graduation as a CNL was timely for the implementation of the program. “The clinical nurse leader program really meets our needs by enhancing school nurses’ clinical and leadership skills and abilities, and in helping them deliver care at the grass roots level,” said Anne Hedges, school health administrator for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County.

For more information on the clinical nurse leader program, contact Dr. Rose Sherman at 561-297-0055.


About FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing:

Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing is committed to nurturing the wholeness of persons and environment through caring.

About the Health Care District of Palm Beach County:

Advancing access to health coverage for low-income residents of Palm Beach County is one of the District’s core responsibilities. The Health Care District also provides lifesaving care for trauma patients from the point of injury to rehabilitation. As a leader in children’s health, the District employs over 200 school nurses who work on-site at   each public school in the county as well as Behavioral Health Professionals who address students’ behavioral and emotional issues   in 46 public elementary schools. The District operates the Edward J. Healey Rehabilitation and Nursing Center for Palm Beach County residents who require long-term skilled nursing care. Glades General Hospital, a not-for-profit subsidiary of the Health Care District, provides acute care hospital services in western Palm Beach County. The District has pledged $50 million to build a new, regional hospital for residents in the Lake Okeechobee region.

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