OSHNA? What state is THAT?
Understandable. Even expected. OSHNA (which stands for Overseas School Health Nurses’ Association
) is an affiliate of NASN and has been an around since 1976. Following WWII, the Department of the Army established the first dependents schools in 1946 in the occupied countries of Germany, Austria and Japan. Within three years, there were nearly 100 schools which were operated separately by the Army, Navy, and Air Force, in countries around the world. In 1964, the Secretary of Defense combined the three separate school systems into the Department of Defense Overseas Dependents School System (DoDDS).
OSHNA started in 1976 as an answer to the isolation that school nurses working in Department of Defense Schools in Germany were feeling. The group met four times a year to share ideas, form policies, hear guest speakers, and discuss ways of improving school health services. Through dedication and hard work by pioneering members, a constitution was written and adopted in 1980. OSHNA was then approved as an organization to operate in military communities overseas. In November 1987, the steering committee voted to affiliate with NASN.
Today, OSHNA is comprised of school nurses that work for DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) as well as international schools. By international schools, I mean “schools located outside the United States that attract students who might be temporarily residing in a foreign nation, service students coming from multiple nations, and offer a curriculum that differs from the national curriculum of the host country.
” (Yes, it really is a definition). International school nurses have more often than not had to establish their programs under a headmaster who knew nothing of school health. Their grit and determination astound me.
Since we are often divided by entire continents, in order to reach as many nurses as possible and allow for networking opportunities, OSHNA established biannual conferences in both the European and Pacific theaters in 2016. Our next conference is in Thetford, England the third week of November. I’ll just have to suffer through somehow…
Now- personally, I can only speak to the DoDEA side of the house. Cush life? Perhaps. All schools have a registered nurse who has at least a bachelor’s degree. At least one parent has a full-time job and all active duty dependents have free health care. That’s not to say that there are no families on food stamps or free and reduced meals, but having a steady income and a medical home is better than many of your populations. Another perk- how nice is it to call a parent’s military supervisor and have things dealt with? Pretty darn nice.
What is missing? Each of us have our nursing licenses from different states and therefore are responsible to upholding our own state laws and standards as well as that of our organization. That is DEFINITELY challenging when management just doesn’t understand that concept and we have to draw a line between our licenses and demands. Principals are our lone supervisors. Oh, state school nurse consultant position, where are you?
As for me, I can’t really complain and thanks to our UK conference, I’ll be eating Thanksgiving dinner at The Savoy in London and going to the West End rocking to “Bat Out of Hell The Musical.” I’ll think of you.