Healthy Schools Florida*(*)

By Bobik, Craig D. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, July 2007 | Go to article overview
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Healthy Schools Florida*(*)

Bobik, Craig D., Journal of the Medical Library Association


Since 1997, the Gulfcoast North Area Health Education Center (GNAHEC), the Florida Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Network, and All Children's Hospital (ACH) have been working together to provide resources to school nurses in Florida via the Florida School Nurse Project. Outreach to school nurses has generally entailed scheduled in-services based on requests from county school nurse supervisors. In-services have typically included clinical instruction in managing health issues in children including diabetes, asthma, medication, and other topics. These nurses are also invited to participate in continuing education programming provided by the Florida AHEC Network and the Florida Department of Health.

Key elements of the Florida School Nurse Project included Website resources along with an email discussion group specifically for school nurses. The project was awarded a National Library of Medicine (NLM) Partners in Information Access contract in 2004 to expand its reach to a wider audience of school health professionals. To reflect the project's wider emphasis on all school officials who deal with school health issues, the project name was changed from the Florida School Nurse Project to Healthy Schools Florida (HSF).


The core population for the HSF project includes all individuals involved in school health issues, including nurses, school psychologists, and guidance counselors. With many school nurses in Florida covering several schools at a time, accessing health information can be difficult. Through discussions and work with school nurses and school health supervisors, the project team learned that school nurses do not have many opportunities to interact with their colleagues to discuss care plans or to compare experiences. There is simply not enough time in the school year.

Opening up the target group beyond school nurses helped provide additional input and perspective as well as ensure that other school health officials had access to information and training. The needs of these additional groups were not assessed as the main target of the project was school nurses. However, it is important that these groups not be left out of the school health discussion.


Florida AHECs work with local school districts to provide continuing education for school nurses, and the HSF project is often promoted at these events. The Florida School Nursing Association also worked with HSF to provide its membership with information about the resources that HSF provides. The close relationships between AHECs and school nursing supervisors were instrumental in bringing the project to the nurses in Florida's sixty-seven counties.


Exhibits and training sessions

The team developed presentations to instruct school health personnel in how to locate and evaluate health information. The presentation "Finding Health Information on the Internet," was provided at several conferences, workshops, and in-services. Table 1 lists sessions conducted in 2004 to 2005.

To reach school health professionals, HSF interventions included exhibits at workshops and relevant conferences. Exhibits generally included a colorful display and live demonstrations of the HSF Website. Handouts and information about HSF were also distributed.

The ability to provide live, interactive education on the Web was programmed into the HSF Website via Web-enhanced audio teleconferences (WEATs). Using the telephone, participants can access a presentation from anywhere, at no cost to them. Viewers with Internet access can also watch the slide presentation on their computers in real time. For example, using this method, thirty-five nurses completed the "Finding Health Information on the Internet" presentation, which provided instruction on searching for health information with an emphasis on NLM's resources.

The Florida AHEC Network uses the WEAT infrastructure to provide continuing education to health professionals on a variety of topics from grant writing to smoking cessation.

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Healthy Schools Florida*(*)


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