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Do Good, Feel Good

Nurses, by profession, are in the business of caring.  But a recent study published in the journal, Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, revealed that nurses often make an equally large impact on promoting health in their communities through non-job related activities, including volunteering.  The study found that over 80% of nurses either formally or informally volunteer, applying their skills, knowledge, and versatile experience to support causes that make a difference in ways beyond their daily nursing job.  School nurses already go above and beyond in their roles as medical providers, health advocates, policymakers, care coordinators, emergency responders, and the million other things that get thrown on their plates.  Giving even more of themselves in a volunteer post may, at first, seem unnecessarily draining, but on closer examination, the benefits of volunteering are more fulfilling than depleting.  By volunteering, school nurses can enhance their well-being, advance their careers, and gain inspired, new perspectives, both personally and professionally.

Mind + Body Effects

Volunteering can have a tremendous positive impact on both physical and mental health. There is a growing body of evidence that volunteering counteracts feelings of stress, anxiety, and even anger, through a release of dopamine, resulting in enhanced mental well-being, increased confidence, and elevated feelings of happiness.  Stress reduction helps to prevent heart disease, strokes, depression, anxiety, and other physical and mental health problems, including the far-too-common burnout experienced by many nurses.

Cultivating Connections

Many school nurses work alone as the sole medical professional in the school, or sometimes, across several schools.  Volunteering prevents feelings of isolation by expanding social networks, meeting like-minded people, and strengthening ties to the community.  Sharing in volunteer efforts with other area school nurses can nurture new friendships and provide much-needed support and encouragement.

Career Advancement

Nursing practice is constantly changing and the numerous skills required, regardless of specialty, can extend far beyond what was covered in nursing school.  Volunteering allows school nurses the opportunity to not only learn different skills but use their immense amount of knowledge and unparalleled abilities in new and unique ways.

Whether a volunteer opportunity involves direct patient care or not, nurses bring a special skill set and perspective to any volunteer effort.  By giving back, doing good, helping those in need, or advocating for positive change, volunteering leaves a large impact that spreads from local to global.  For busy school nurses, it’s important to maintain balance and be mindful of time commitments, but in many ways, volunteering is not only caring for others and supporting the broader community but with all the benefits for the volunteer, is also self-care.  In the end, it’s the ultimate win-win.

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