Document Type

DNP Project


School of Nursing

Date of Degree

Spring 2021


Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Primary Advisor

Mercedes Echevarria, DNP, APN, CNE; Carol S. Lang, DScN, MScN (Ed), RN-BC


mental health, school nurse, competency, pediatrics, Virginia


Background: Mental health concerns in the pediatric population have increased over recent years, even more so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Time from onset of symptoms to treatment is over eight years, leaving less than 25% receiving care. Virginia ranks 47th for pediatric mental health care. School nurses spend a significant amount of workload on MH issues but often report being untrained to deal with these issues. Aims: Implement a quality improvement pilot program for school nurses designed to increase competency of identification, management, and referrals for students with mental health concerns. Outcomes measured domains of knowledge, attitude, and competency related to aforementioned goals.

Methods: Program was administered virtually to school nurses in Northern Virginia in the Fall of 2020. Interventions consisted of Mental Health Training Intervention for Providers in Schools (MH-TIPS) modules, a process algorithm for interdisciplinary management of mental health issues, and weekly education designed to increase mental health competency. Data collection occurred via REDCap pre-, mid-, and post-surveys.

Results: 26 nurses completed the project. Results demonstrated a statistically significant increase in all outcome domains.

Conclusion: School nurses are on the frontlines of pediatric mental health care. Increasing competency to identify and manage care for children/adolescents with mental health concerns is a priority to improve access and care for Virginia students. This pilot program is a cost-free program that can significantly increase mental health care competency for school nurses, not only in Virginia, but across the country.

Open Access


Included in

Nursing Commons



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