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Nursing Leadership and Management Students’ Dream of Opening Idaho’s First School-Based Health Clinic Becomes Reality

Reception desk at Meridian Schools Clinic

In February 2014, Idaho’s first school-based health clinic opened. Located in Meridian, the Meridian Schools Clinic opened as a nurse-managed health clinic, serving the children at Meridian Elementary, the Girls and Boys Club, and siblings of the children attending this school and organization. Children, between the ages of 0 and 18 years of age whose families are low income and do not have access to medical care, can now receive such healthcare services as behavioral health counseling, nutritional counseling, dental care, and primary care. Eventually, the clinic will also serve Chief Joseph Elementary, Barbara Morgan STEM Academy, Peregrine Elementary, and Meridian and Crossroads Middle Schools.

This school-based health clinic was researched, analyzed, developed and proposed by senior Nursing Leadership and Management students from Boise State University’s School of Nursing. Beginning in spring 2011, students worked with Russ Duke, director of Central District Health Department (CDHD), and Pam Strohfus, faculty in the School of Nursing, to assess the role of CDHD in relation to health care reform and its service to the community and schools. Their recommendations led the next group of students in fall 2011 to conduct a needs assessment on school-based initiatives for Health District Four (Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties). This needs assessment highlighted the need for school-based health care for low income children and adolescents. In spring 2012, the next group of students proposed a plan to institute Idaho’s first school-based health clinic at Meridian Elementary.

After the spring 2012 semester ended, Strohfus began to identify potential grant funding and organizational support to create this clinic. Julia Robinson, director of community affairs at Family Medicine Residency of Idaho (FMRI), then utilized Strohfus and the students’ research and was able to secure grant funding of $875,000, which allowed the development of the school-based, nurse-managed health clinic. Nurse-managed health clinics are health care delivery sites operated by Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). These nurse practitioners manage interdisciplinary teams of healthcare providers who comprise the clinic’s staff. These providers may include physicians, social workers, public health nurses, dental hygienists, and therapists.

In the end, 30 nursing students and faculty, FMRI and Meridian Joint School District contributed time, resources, long hours and dedication to make the clinic possible. The dream of the students has come to fruition to contribute to the community with a tangible plan for children’s health care services in schools. The students are: Heather Wiemer, Judee Zollinger, Stephanie Canning, Angela Kirkham, Tana Loan, Kristi Dilworth, Evan Kohoutek, Shannon Damiano, Brittnai Johnson, and Katlyn Strain from the class of 2012; and Rachel Beck, Seana Blinn, Brandy Fisher, Lindsay Genereux, Martin Janssen, Elizabeth Kidd, Brad Lau, Eric Roman, Trisch Taylor, and Emma Young, Lindsay Batten, Ryan Bolt, Angie Heazle, Michelle Long, Nathan McIndoo, Ryan McIndoo, Vanessa Phillips, Laura Ritchie, Trisha Valdez, and Shane Wyant from the Class of 2011.

Learn more about the clinic online.