NJHI Director Bob Atkins Reflects on His Nursing Career, Acknowledges New Jersey’s Nurses Working Beyond Hospital, School Walls
As a registered nurse, I was personally and professionally proud to watch late night show host Jimmy Kimmel give shout outs in a recent monologue to the nurses who were working in the hospital when his son was born and provided lifesaving care to his newborn son. As a nation we don’t take enough time to acknowledge the nurses who promote, maintain, and restore our health and the health of our loved ones and neighbors. I want to give a special shout out to the nurses who are working outside the hospital.
According to the RN Work Project, a growing proportion of nurses are starting their careers working in the community. That’s where I started.
According to the RN Work Project, a growing proportion of nurses are starting their careers working in the community. That’s where I started my nursing career. Two decades later, in my role as director of New Jersey Health Initiatives, the statewide grantmaking program of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, I leverage my background working in vulnerable communities as a school nurse, homeless outreach nurse, and pediatric nurse practitioner to support grantees to build healthier communities in New Jersey.
Nurses are leading conversations in our Moving to Action grantmaking which is funding 20 cross-sector coalitions in communities like Camden, Jersey City, Salem, and Newark. School nurses are also leading upstream conversations across the state. In 2014, we partnered with Johnson & Johnson to increase the number of New Jersey school nurses driving changes to policies, systems, and environments that improve health in their schools and communities. Edna Cadmus, a Rutgers University nursing professor, oversees this grant initiative and J&J School Health Leadership Fellows such as Sheila Caldwell, Sheila Colalillo and Eileen Gavin are partnering with community organizations across New Jersey to decrease childhood asthma and get more laypeople trained in mental health first aid.
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Photo: School nurses and Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Fellows build a Culture of Health by working in and with the Camden community. (Credit: Robin Cogan)