With the help of a $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden will be able to fund an innovative expansion of their post-baccalaureate School Nursing Certification Program to a graduate-level program with a focus on population health. The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) award is one of only five given in the state and will help Rutgers’ mission of educating school nurses to address the increasingly complex health demands of students and their communities.

School nurses are critical to the health of students and their communities. Today’s school nurses require education in public health and advanced leadership so that they can work with community leaders to enact changes in school systems, policies, and other environments that influence the health of their students.

Enabled by the new grant, the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden will change the focus of their school nursing certification program from focusing on the health of individual students to addressing determinants of health affecting students in their communities. The initiative will emphasize the importance of creating healthier communities by making health a shared value through collaboration with students, their families, the school systems, and the surrounding communities.

The main message of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Campaign is fostering collaboration to improve well-being, more equitable communities, and strengthening integration of health services and systems. Rutgers-Camden plans to do just that, pioneering and leading in the field of school nurse education to better prepare school nurses in New Jersey, ultimately improving the health of the populations they serve.

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