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“7years ”


idea of nursing school.


one-on-one time with the patient, and it seemed much more intimate to be in their envi- ronment than the hospital setting.”


Alfano later started working for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, and quickly discovered


later a friend suggested the


she was passionate about finding ways to improve quality of care. She led the implementation of a community health program for seniors in an area of Manhattan with a high population of retired individuals. When she moved to Westchester County, N.Y., Alfano learned a high percentage of Hispanics needed health services in the county. In response, she founded the National Association of Hispanic Nurses Westchester Chapter to address Hispanic health disparities and increase the number of Hispanic nurses in the county.


Throughout her training and time in nursing, Alfano nurtured a growing desire to work in


the world of academia, where she could influence future nurses. She realized this dream two years ago when she accepted a faculty position at Concordia College’s nursing division in New York. “Public health nursing needs to be prioritized in nursing schools today,” she said. “Due to the fact that I have so much public health experience, I integrate community and public health concepts into all the courses I teach.”


Now she’s enrolling in PhD programs, and hopes to use her expertise to eventually remove


barriers preventing new graduates from entering the field of public health. “I believe we need to stop doubting that we can prepare nurses during nursing school to become public health nurses,” Alfano said. “We need to transform nursing curriculum in order to achieve this, and I plan to be a leading force in the effort to accomplish this.”


Andrea Tanner: Transforming community health via the school system


Andrea Tanner, MSN, RN, NCSN, enjoyed working in pediatric oncology during her first year as a nurse, but she craved more time to educate and invest in patients and families.


Fortunately, she decided to drive her husband to a church


camp and attended a meeting that would change the course of her career. Once she arrived, she sat next to a woman who worked as a school nurse and knew of two colleagues who were retiring. “It had always been something I was interested in, particularly because it would give me an opportunity to work in the community setting,” Tanner said. “But I thought there was no way anyone would hire me because I had very little nursing experience.”


Tanner applied for a school nurse position in New Albany


Floyd County Schools and got the job. Although Tanner said the term “school nurse” can conjure images of someone sitting in a health office dealing with cuts and stomach aches, this is a far cry from her job description. Much of her time involves care coordination with other healthcare providers for children with multiple health issues. She also educates families, teachers and administra- tors about topics such as nutrition and exercise and emergency response protocols.


Tanner knew she wanted to learn more about


students realize they can take control of some of their situation …


rewarding for me is seeing an ‘aha’ moment when


“ What’s ”


her specialty and enrolled in a school and public health graduate nursing program at the University of Missouri in 2005. “I wanted to get a broader view of how I could connect student health to community health and be the biggest change agent possible,” she said.


Two years ago she discovered an opportunity to make a larger


impact when she saw an advertisement from the National Associ- ation of School Nurses. The organization was looking for nurses


18 MARCH/APRIL 2016 • MIDWEST


who were interested in becoming epinephrine experts. “Anaphylaxis is always on the forefront of our minds as school nurses with all of the al- lergies children can have,” Tanner said.


Historically children


with a known allergy had their own epinephrine available at school, Tanner said, but increasing numbers of schools are starting to stock epinephrine so it’s available for children who are not aware they have an allergy. These children may experience their first reaction at school. She was accepted into the NASN program and now trains nurses throughout the state about the use of epinephrine in schools. Tanner also has collaborated with the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop procedures and a national policy about this issue.


Her long-term goal is to provide resources in the community to break the cycle of pre- ventable diseases and empower children to be healthier earlier. “What’s rewarding for me is seeing an ‘aha’ moment when students realize they can take


some control of their situation and make a change for better health,” she said. •


Heather Stringer is a freelance writer. TO COMMENT, email editor@nurse.com.


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