Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


School of Nursing and Health Professions



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Pauly-O'Neill

Second Advisor

Dr. Alexa Curtis

Third Advisor

Dr. Courtney Keeler


Of the approximately 15 million children and adolescents who have a mental health disorders that are interfering with their functioning, a mere 25% seek medical advice or treatment (Melnyk, Kelly, & Lusk, 2014). Furthermore, two thirds of youth report experience at least one traumatic event by age 16 (Suarez, Belcher, Briggs, & Titus, 2012). School health practitioners have regular contact with children and adolescents as they typically attend school five days a week, nine months out of the year. The consistent presence of the relationship between the practitioner and student creates an ideal environment for discussing the sensitive topics necessary to engage in trauma informed care modalities. The goal of this project was to increase the awareness of trauma-informed definitions, techniques and resources for nurses in the school setting. The Sonoma County School Nurse Association partnered with a University of San Francisco (USF) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student to receive a two-hour presentation about trauma and its associated interventions. Participating school nurses subsequently received an evidenced-based module that reinforces the recognition and effective resource management for trauma informed care, in order to reduce the risk of trauma on the growth, development, and success of adolescents. Motivational Interviewing (MI) was used as the primary intervention reviewed for practitioners to implement into their own practices. Play therapy and cognitive restructuring were also presented to the 13 school nurses in attendance. Data was collected immediately before and after the presentation as well as six-weeks later. In both data sets, participating nurses noted an increase in their confidence but did not report a significant utilization of motivational interviewing, play therapy, or cognitive restructuring. A lack of appropriate clinical scenarios was cited most frequently as the reason for not utilizing the presented techniques.