Evaluation of North Shore Public Health Nurses’ Child and Youth School-Linked Practice

As a means to improve youth health, the BC Government introduced the Healthy Schools Strategy, based on a comprehensive school health framework. In Vancouver Coastal Health, the North Shore Public Health Nursing Child & Youth Team developed plans to provide school nursing in all 12 public high schools in West Vancouver and North Vancouver (School Districts 44 & 45).

Nursing interventions were grounded in the PHN Wheel of Interventions. Their approach included up to 3 hours of weekly in-school office hours for appointments and consultations with youth and staff, and varied population-focused interventions: health fairs, health teaching, school health committees, immunizations, provincial youth health surveys, referrals and follow-up of health services for students and their families.

At the PHN team’s request, Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc provided in-service training on applying the PHN Wheel of Intervention to public health nursing care of adolescents, especially in the school setting, in June 2012. The PHN team also developed a tracking tool based on the Wheel of Interventions, and from September 2012 to June 2013, each nurse tracked her own nursing interventions based on the Wheel. This evaluation documented the types and perceived effectiveness of public health nursing (PHN) interventions delivered to youth and school communities in the public secondary schools on the North Shore. We used a mixed methods approach, which involved documents review, in-school observations, tracking PHN interventions, and semi-structured interviews with both PHNs and school staff. The PHNs also documented all school-based interventions and activities from September, 2012 to June, 2013 using a tracking tool they had developed.

Our report found the following recommendations:

  • Ensure the VCH plan includes sustainable implementation of the BC Healthy Schools Strategy, with PHN school nurses as a key approach.
  • Research shows a strong link between youth health and number of hours PHNs work in school environments. Expand PHN in-school hours for schools with larger student populations, to improve equity within and across the two school districts.
  • Collaborate with SD 44 and 45 superintendents and school boards to integrate PHN in-school practice with formal agreements to meet the aims of comprehensive school health.
  • Maintain PHN’s specific school assignments to permit continued partnership development and capacity building for school staff and ongoing rapport with youth.
  • Evaluate youth health outcomes related to school nursing interventions.

Download the North Shore PHN Evaluation Report

Principal Investigator: Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, PhD, RN, FSAHM, FCAHS CIHR/PHAC Applied Public Health Research Chair, Youth Health Professor and Director, Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre University of British Columbia School of Nursing Email: elizabeth.saewyc@ubc.ca

Co-Investigator: Jennifer Roy, BSN (Hons), RN(C) CCHN(C) MPH Practicum Graduate Student University of Alberta School of Public Health Email: jlroy@ualberta.ca
Co-Investigator: Sue Foster, MSN, RN Public Health Nurse – Child & Youth Team Vancouver Coastal Health Email: sue.foster@vch.ca


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