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This Is Getting Old Podcast with Melissa B PhD

Jun 16, 2020

Retired But, Resourceful Interview with Jeanne Kiefner

“You have to be a lifelong learner.”
— Jeanne Kiefner, MEd, RN, NJ-CSN FNASN (05:26-05:28)

What do COVID-19 and school nursing have in common? Contagious disease. 

School nursing was founded by Lilian Wald – a nurse and an advocate for children who were being sent home due to a trachoma epidemic in 1902. At the time, students were sent home from school if they had symptoms of this infectious disease.  Lilian Wald argued that the appointment of a public health nurse in schools could follow up on students diagnosed with minor contagious diseases and make sure they were treated so they could return to school - and school nursing was born.

Our guest this week is Jeanne Kiefner, a school nurse since the 1970’s. In addition to being a historian on school nursing, she shares several things she has done that can help anyone navigating an upcoming retirement - and beyond. In her interview, she shares her love of being a lifelong learner; maintaining a positive attitude and kindness; and how she stays engaged and serves as a resource to her wide network of friends and colleagues. In this week’s episode, you’ll learn about being “Retired but Resourceful” from our guest, Jeanne Kiefner.

Part One of ‘Retired But, Resourceful Interview with Jeanne Kiefner’

Jeanne Kiefner is a School Nurse who, for more than 18 years after her retirement, continued to attend the National Association of School Nurses conferences prior to COVID-19. She also provided practicum supervision for School Nurse Certificate students at Rowan University in New Jersey. 

She continues to be recognized whenever she goes out because she has been in the world of school nursing since the 1970s. Her tenacity, her directness, and her preparedness are admirable. Jeanne keeps her knowledge base strong because she is always reading, researching, and learning. Recommended to Melissa by Robin Cogan (@RobinCogan) - Jeanne is a shining example of a Relentless School Nurse! NOTE: Robin’s Blog, The Relentless School Nurse was awarded the 2019 Top Nurse Blog. You check out her work here – and learn how to be relentless in your practice, whatever it is!

Jeanne has embraced social media. She has a Twitter handle (@1jeannethenurse) and a Facebook page. She is active in her Nurses Union even after retirement and serves on countless committees and boards in her never-ending pursuit of knowledge.


“Older people have lost their independence during COVID-19.” — Jeanne Kiefner, MEd, RN, NJ-CSN FNASN (13:04-13:19)


Jeanne Kiefner has been a registered nurse for over 50 years. Somewhere along her journey, she realized that she had to be involved with her professional organization, the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). 


She previously hosted a regional NASN conference which was held regionally, and sponsored by industry. It was a wonderful experience because she got to know people throughout the country. But at the same time, she was able to keep up with her profession and know the latest about what was happening. 

Jeanne stayed in school nursing, where she's also involved in the teacher's union and seen not just as a nurse but as a resourceful person by her peers. She became a Long-Term Care Omsbudsman – serving as an advocate and resource to help older adults living in a nursing home navigate the system and get their needs met. You can learn more about the Long-term Care Omsbudsman program here.

Part Two of ‘Retired But, Resourceful Interview with Jeanne Kiefner’

Jeanne Kiefner has a Masters in Counseling and Guidance. In the beginning, her work as a school nurse was very task-oriented. But she knew she could do more, so she worked with teachers, children, and their families dealing with physical, emotional, and mental health issues. She continued this work with the school nurses and her community; helping others and learning more and more each time. She retired from the school twenty years ago but kept herself involved in some way. She encourages retirees to be lifelong learners. 


Fast forward, when she felt the impact of COVID-19 to the world, she got frightened at first. So, she did some research about nursing, working within the disasters throughout the country. During this uncertain time, she tries her best to always maintain a very positive attitude, be kind, and help other people in the best possible way she can. She stays engaged with life – learning to blog and write articles, surf the internet to find the answers to questions she may have, and makes phone calls to check on her friends. She loves to continue to be challenged – including doing her very first podcast interview for This is Getting Old.  

“Always maintain a positive attitude.” —  Jeanne Kiefner, MEd, RN, NJ-CSN FNASN (06:50-06:54)

Jeanne is the “connector” for her friends but also still relies on her professional network to learn more and stay up-to-date. Through her writing and interview today, she talks about some of the challenges older adults are facing with COVID-19.  Because they are at high-risk for serious illness if exposed to COVID-19, retired people have had to give up their independence. They have to make a grocery list and hand it to somebody else who will shop for them. It isn't a happy day for many of the retirees. But she is optimistic - happy days will come again!

About Melissa

I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (‘96) and Master of Science in Nursing (‘00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I truly enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home, and office visits) then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer. I obtained my Ph.D. in Nursing and a post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing (’11) and then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the faculty at George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor where I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health, and Humanities. Find out more about her work at