One of five 2014 School Nurse Leadership Award winners, she received the recognition of her work as a school nurse leader, a nurse and nurse practitioner for over 37 years.
“It’s our pleasure to recognize these outstanding school nurses who have gone above and beyond to create healthier school environments,” said Healthy Schools Campaign President and CEO Rochelle Davis. “We have long supported school nurses and the critical role they play in school health and wellness. The School Nurse Leadership Award is a way for us to highlight the meaningful and innovative approaches school nurses are taking to prioritize student health.”
In honoring Ryan, the Health Schools Campaign staff wrote of her leadership in open a clinic in one of San Diego's most challenging neighborhoods.
"Kathleen understands the critical relationship between school health and students’ academic success. Serving in a low-income school, Kathleen garnered the necessary support to bring a school-based health center (SBHC) to her school to address students’ unmet health care needs. The SBHC opened in 2008, providing free primary and preventative care, health education and behavior health services to the school’s 2,400 students. Today, the SBHC is a community hub that links students, parents and the school with community resources," they wrote.
"The five winners and four honorable mentions selected from across the country represent school nurses who are blazing new trails in their field, reimagining the role that school nurses play in school health and wellness, students’ academic success and the health of the larger community. These exemplary individuals have made significant contributions in the following nurse leadership categories: state, policy, urban schools, rural schools, and innovative programs," said Davis. In addition to Ryan, the other honored nurses were from New Mexico, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky.
Kathy precepts nursing students from several Southern California nursing programs, including school nurse credential candidates, students in community health and leadership rotations, and nurse practitioner students. She promotes the concepts of population health when she serves as a preceptor for these students. Kathy utilizes her knowledge of community health nursing within the school health environment to more effectively address the needs of her students and their families, the faculty and staff.
Kathy is a member of community and state workgroups that address school health concerns. Her primary efforts are to increase awareness of the role of health care policy in school health and school nursing. She assists CSNO (state and local chapter), the San Diego County Office of Education and the American Academy of Pediatricians School Health committees in planning and providing continuing education programs for school nurses, pediatricians and other school health providers.
Kathy joined CSNO in 2006. She is immediate past president for the San Diego/Imperial section, and started her term as California School Nurses Organization State President-elect in June, 2013. She feels her volunteerism with the organization supports her role as a school nurse, and helps her to have a broader perspective of areas of concern.
Kathy is an alumni of the Nurse in Washington Internship program, and utilizes what she learned there in her work at school, with CSNO and in the community. She feels that NIWI prepared her to be a strong advocate for school nurses as well as to work with the high school students who are members of the Lincoln High School Youth Health Council (LHSYHC).
Kathy educates others regarding the relationship between school health and the academic success of students. She encourages self-advocacy among her students and their parents at school and in the community. She represents the CSNO San Diego Imperial chapter at community events, promoting the role of the school nurse while advancing awareness of school health needs and challenges.
Kathy is the founder and advisor of the LHSYHC, where she mentors 20-40 high school students in leadership and decision making activities related to adolescent health concerns. Their goal is to improve the well-being of teens at school (healthy students+healthy families=healthy homes=healthy communities). Students on the council learn about and practice community health advocacy and leadership. Kathy provides and facilitates training and educational opportunities to prepare YHC members to develop and refine their health advocacy skills.
Some of the issues Kathy has helped the YHC to address include: racism, bullying, nutrition, and healthy teen relationships. During the summer of 2011, the LHSYHC planned and presented a four part Community Wellness series to educate their parents and community members about the link between healthy students, healthy families and healthy communities. Kathy has taken YHC members to the California School Health Center conference in Sacramento, where they met with state legislators at the capitol.