Tag Archives: nurses

National School Nurse Day is May 12: Championing the Whole Student

National School Nurse Day
May 12, 2021
School Nurses: Championing the Whole Student

Picture of a nurse and a student

Since 1972, National School Nurse Day has been set aside to recognize school nurses.

National School Nurse Day was established to foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting.

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week and school nurses are honored for the work they do in advancing the well-being, academic success, and lifelong achievements of students by providing access to care in the school environment.

Picture of school nurses from Newberry School District.
School nurses from Newberry School District: on the far left is Tricia Ulch, BSN, RN, School Nurse Coordinator, recipient of the 2019/2020 DeeDee Chewning School Nurse Administrator of the Year Award. The winner for the 2020/2021 school year has not been announced yet.

The 2021 theme for National School Nurse Day is “Championing the Whole Student.”

This theme recognizes the integral role that school nurses play bridging health and education to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotion development, regardless of whether they are physically present in school or not.

School nurses serve as a critical health hub for students, ensuring that students are ready for learning by managing complex chronic conditions; identifying and addressing mental health issues; leveling the field on health disparities and promoting healthy behaviors; enrolling children in health insurance and connecting families to healthcare providers; handling medical emergencies; and now, navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic by testing, tracking and vaccinating students and school personnel.

School nurses act as a liaison to the school community, families, and health care providers on behalf of children’s health.

School nurses champion the whole student every day of the year. But, on National School Nurse Day, we take special time to celebrate and recognize the contributions that school nurses are making to the health and learning of our nation’s 50 million children.

Gov. Henry McMaster signed a proclamation earlier this month recognizing May 12 as School Nurses Day in South Carolina.

Governor's Proclamation declaring May 12 School Nurses Day
Governor Henry McMaster’s Proclamation

DHEC Celebrates National Nurses Week; 2020 Palmetto Gold Winners

May 6 through May 12 is National Nurses Week, and some of our lead nurses wanted to take the opportunity to thank the more than 1,000 amazing nurses that work with DHEC.   

“Today and every day, we are proud to celebrate and honor our DHEC nurses,” said Rebecca Morrison, State Director of Public Health Nursing. “Through leadership, innovation, teamwork, and service excellence, our DHEC nurses promote and protect the health of the citizens of South Carolina.”  

She especially wanted to honor the 2020 Palmetto Gold award winners. 

“In this unprecedented past year, our public health nurses met the challenge to combat the pandemic on the frontlines of health care,” Rebecca said. “Additionally, they are also recognized by our professional peers through the prestigious annual Palmetto Gold nursing awards.” 

Started in 2002, the Palmetto Gold Nurse Recognition and Scholarship Program has annually honored nurses statewide and raised money to provide scholarship for nursing students. You can learn more about the program by clicking here.   

“Thank you to the seasoned public health nurses, who during COVID, have been stretched to cover their primary programs and clinics along with picking up new duties to oversee and lead the region in COVID response,” said Pat Barrett, one of the 2020 Palmetto Gold winners. 

She is also the Regional Nursing Director for the Midlands. 

“Thank you to the new public health nurses who started with DHEC prior to or during COVID and whose orientations to their hired program areas were impacted or sidelined due to the need for assistance in COVID,” said Kate McBride, Reginal Nursing Director for the Pee Dee. “I appreciate your flexibility and willingness to stick with us.” 

Leah Dawkins, Regional Nursing Director for the Lowcountry, thanked the hourly and contract nurses who joined DHEC to assist in the COVID-19 response. 

“We appreciate your fresh insights and your ability to jump in and hit the ground running,” Leah said. “Together, you have completed Epi COVID Case Investigations and brought COVID mass testing and COVID vaccine to our underserved communities. These accomplishments would not be possible without our new teams of hourly and contract nurses.” 

Shenicka McCray, Regional Nursing Director for the Upstate, said 2020 helped shine a light on the contribution of nurses to public health.  

“This past year, each of us have faced many challenges, both personally and professionally, but we have also had the opportunity to tap into and highlight the best of public health,” Shenicka said. “And the best of public health is seen in each of our public health nurses right here at DHEC. Thank you all. Without your commitment, ingenuity, and high standards for excellence, we would not be the success that we are today.” 

Please enjoy the video and join this team in showing appreciation for our DHEC nurses. They truly demonstrate the agency’s core value of Embracing Service and the strategy of Leadership and Collaboration.  

Palmetto Gold Winners 

  • Shaniqua Dawn Alston 
  • Pat Barrett 
  • Debra Cain  
  • Jennifer Donehue 
  • Lynn Foster 
  • Sheryl Gardner 
  • Fran Hall 
  • Marnie Johnson 
  • Crystal Keith 
  • Lindsey Odell 
  • Amy Painter 
  • Debra Ray 
  • Elizabeth Reynolds 
  • Emily Way