The Relentless School Nurse: Ban the Band-Aid References

By Robin Cogan, MEd, RN, NCSN posted 06-07-2018 07:06



Nursing media competencies were not on my radar as either a nurse, or truthfully,  a nurse educator, until I listened to a press conference given by Diana J. Mason, R.N., Ph.D., F.A.A.N., and Barbara Glickstein, M.P.H., M.S., R.N.  co-directors of the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University School of Nursing. The press conference was held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to release the findings of the Woodhull Study Revisited.

The irony of nurses talking about the continued lack of nurses as a source for health-related articles and dismal representation of nursing in media released at a press conference jumped out at me.  The irony grew as the findings were reviewed and I realized the sheer brilliance of calling this press conference. The information shared by the nurse leaders, nurse scientists and nurse journalists throughout the press conference opened a door to a path of nursing that I had never even considered. I have been a nurse for 33 years and not once reached out to anyone in the media to either report or share a great nursing outcome, story or project that I had completed.

There were many disturbing trends discussed in the Woodhull Study Revisited, but one weighed heavily on my mind. Journalists may be stuck in old stereotypes of nurses and do not have a clear understanding of the range of a nurse’s knowledge, skills, and work.” (Mason, Glickstein 2018) My thoughts immediately jumped to school nursing and I began to run through the headlines and content of recent articles that I remembered posting on Twitter about school nurses. I could literally see the headlines or the first few sentences referenced band-aids and ice packs, even if the information was describing that school nursing is more than...bandaids and ice packs.  I decided to do my own cursory review of recent articles that I found or posted on Twitter. My memory served me correctly, here is a sample of what I found in recent articles:

School nurses do more than bandage boo-boos - May 25, 2018

School nurses provide more than band-aids - May 23, 2018

School Nurses: More Than Just Band-Aids - May 20, 2018

School nurses give out much more than just Band-Aids - May 15, 2018

More than Band-Aids -Wasilla Middle School Nurse awarded for her ‘Brain Train’ program - April 3, 2018

School nurses on front lines of mental health, societal problems: It's not just Tums and Band-Aids in the school nurses office anymore, local professionals say. - December 10, 2017

My research is just beginning, but the patterns are emerging that deserve attention and action.  The body of the articles included as examples contain wonderful messages of the important, innovative and vital work of school nursing.  The problem is that when the headline is about what we don’t do, not what we do, that negative messaging persists. Nursing Media Competencies may be the change agents in this conversation. I will be adding From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public by Bernice Buresh, Suzanne Gordon to my summer reading list.

                                                                           Please stop by and visit my new website: 


1 comment



06-10-2018 17:17

Bravo! You are absolutely right. Most articles appear to be defensive in nature rather than being expository. We have to tell the public what it is that we do. They already know about the ice packs and bandaids, what they need to know are the "real stuff" that no one ever gets to see or hear about. We have to change how we are perceived by telling our own story. I will be making a personal conscious effort to rephrase the way I present issues from now on. Thank you for this insight.