Partnerships have been the heart of the School Nurse Organization of Washington (SNOW) since its inception in the 1950’s and has strengthened the organization’s effectiveness and reach. SNOW began as a part of the public health section of the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) in 1952. SNOW evolved quickly, as a branch of WSNA in 1955 and in 1957, as an independent organization.
SNOW became a department within the Washington Education Association (WEA), the state teacher’s union in 1960. In 1979, SNOW emerged fully independent, incorporating as a non-profit organization but continuing to collaborate with WEA. Finally, in October 2011, The SNOW membership voted to affiliate with NASN.
Today, SNOW continues the tradition that helped foster its creation, reflecting the nature of school nursing: independent but collaborative. We work with the state Office of Superintendent and health department through the Health Services Supervisor. We partner with universities for continuing education and Board members represent us in numerous health and wellness organizations and advocacy groups.
Working with WSNA for policy and advocacy support, SNOW achieved the passage of legislation recognizing the authority of registered school nurses in their practice, SHB 1346 . It took five years. This bill clarifies that non-nurse administrators may not supervise the practice of nursing.
Coming full circle, SNOW is currently engaged in talks for a trial affiliation with WSNA, the professional organization that represents a majority of nursing professionals in our state, for a greater voice in advocating for student health. And of course, we maintain our ties with NASN, attending conferences, partnering for a grant on case management, and bringing NASN programs to our members.
I joined SNOW shortly after becoming a school nurse ten years ago and became an area representative six years later. While large in number, our area struggled with attendance at our meetings despite attempts to provide valuable professional development. I began to question the relevance of my efforts.
In a strategic planning exercise at our board annual retreat, a consultant led us to re-examine our approach. It led me to recognize the importance of updating communications to be more relevant for twenty-first century school nursing.
As a board, we examined the purpose for our membership meetings and considered changing them to better meet the needs of our members. Networking emerged as a priority so we decided to focus on creating opportunities for less structured events.
“Regardless of your age or past experience, you are the future of #nursing. You are not bound by old stereotypes or traditions. You have an opportunity to create a new paradigm. You will create the future direction of the profession” Cardillo, Donna [DonnaCardilloRN}. (2018, June 5). Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y87w95f7
With a foundation strengthened by partnerships, SNOW adapts. I too am changing, having recently taken on the role of Public Relations for SNOW and even learning to tweet. Now, as I conclude my first blog entry, I am confident that SNOW and I will stay relevant in this changing world. How will you embrace the future?