Associate Professor Erin D. Maughan receives VDOE Grant to invigorate the future of school nursing


Both regionally and across the country, there is a severe lack of programs dedicated to school nursing administrators (i.e. nurses who lead school nursing and school health programs at the district level). Erin Maughan, an associate professor in College of Public Health’s School of Nursing at George Mason University, intends to remedy this with a $364,503 grant from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). With the funding, Maughan will establish the School Nursing Leadership Academy.  

Erin D. Maughan
Erin D. Maughan

"There are over 130,000 school nurses across the nation, who are central to the foundation of the health and well-being of children,” Maughan said. "The goal of the academy is to develop leaders in school nursing who have the knowledge and skills needed to successfully oversee school health programs at the district level, as well as state and regional school nursing associations."

The academy, which is expected to be fully developed by June 2024, will be designed to train future leaders in school nursing using TeamSTEPPS, an evidence-based curriculum that prioritizes incorporating effective communication and teamwork into the health care system. The program will take place over one-and-a-half years and will incorporate experiential learning, equestrian activity, and expert-led discussions.

In addition, Mason's Center for Health Workforce is guiding the development of sustainable asynchronous modules for the professional development program, which along with virtual webinars, will provide additional information and mentoring opportunities. 

The program kicks off with three days of in–person instruction, during which participants will use virtual reality (VR) modules to practice interprofessional skills and conflict management. Mason's College of Public Health is a leader in integrating VR into the curriculum and training of future health care leaders.  

“Participating in the VR will allow gaining experience in a safe, nonthreatening environment where we can talk about how they reacted so they will have confidence and experience when they encounter situations in the real world,” said Maughan.  

Maughan was originally approached by the VDOE’s state school nurse consultant Tracy White, who wanted to foster more leadership training and was aware of Maughan’s passion to do so as well. Together, they set into motion plans to create the academy. 

Maughan is a leading expert on school nursing and the health of school-age children. Her research expertise is in looking at the role of infrastructure and policy on school nurse staffing and services. In addition, she has expertise in leadership, strategic planning, innovation, and mentoring. Her career is dedicated to children’s health, especially vulnerable populations. She is excited to contribute her skills and knowledge for the success of the academy.  

“Having been a school nurse leader and researcher for many years, it has been a dream of mine to create such a program,” said Maughan. "I hope this program will build excitement and create a network of confident school nurse leaders who can transform school nursing in their districts, so that frontline school nurses have the guidance and support they need to work to their full scope of practice.

Maughan emphasizes how this program is not only for school nurses but also for the students they will be serving.  

At its core, the School Nursing Leadership Academy is about building capacity to help school nurse leaders build their confidence and skills needed to do well in the position,” said Maughan. “We are confident this initiative will position school nurses and their program leaders to work effectively with school administrators, local health departments, health care providers and families to positively impact student health, and thus improve child health in the commonwealth and the rest of the nation.”