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Expert medical help now available to Connecticut school nurses via new website

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2009 - Winter


School nurse Marcia Wilcox, R.N., didn’t have much luck when she used Google to search for information about learning disabilities caused by a rare bone disorder. A teacher at her school in Connecticut needed to know whether a new student would need extra help as a result of the condition.

Wilcox contacted Janene Batten, M.L.S., at the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, who sent Wilcox four journal articles on the condition, “She was able to find something a lot quicker than I would be able to,” said Wilcox, the sole nurse for about 400 primary school children. “Sometimes I have time, and sometimes I don’t.”

This expert help was available on the “Ask a Librarian” feature on a new website for Connecticut school nurses that Batten established with colleagues Jan Glover, M.L.S., and Lynn Sette, M.L.S. They created the site based on a questionnaire they had sent in the fall of 2007 to the nearly 2,000 nurses and nurse practitioners in Connecticut’s public schools and school-based clinics. Just under half the nurses who filled out the questionnaire said they were too busy during the school day to use the Internet; 44 percent said they lacked knowledge of electronic resources.

The site gives the nurses easy access to 14 databases, including PubMed, the biomedical database for clinicians, and MedlinePlus. Among other resources is a link to the National Library of Medicine’s Drug Information Portal, which provides details about 12,000 medications. The site also provides access to librarians who can help with difficult searches, as Batten helped Wilcox.

The librarians developed the site over two and a half years as part of a $40,000 grant from the National Library of Medicine. They hope that the site, called Connecticut School Nurses Information Resources, can serve as a model for others. In June, the librarians will present a paper about the project at the annual conference of the National Association of School Nurses.

“Unlike a lot of areas of nursing, school nursing is a very solitary practice,” said Joan Cagginello, R.N., M.S., the school nurse administrator of the Milford Health Department. The site is “invaluable,” she said.

The site’s URL is