Sharon K. Yearous is driven by an exceptional passion for helping Iowa's youth, which guides her educational research activities, her professional work, and her considerable service to the state.
Yearous grew up on a farm outside Monticello and received her B.N. degree from the UI College of Nursing in 1993 and her M.S. degree in 1999. She is currently immersed in dissertation research for a Ph.D. degree in nursing. In addition to her educational degrees, she has earned certifications as a pediatric nurse practitioner, nationally certified school nurse, and basic life support CPR instructor.
This young alumna has been and continues to be a dedicated advocate of public policy issues for children's wellness and the need for child and adolescent access to school nurses at the state and national levels. Already in her career, she has served as president and was recently appointed the Executive Director of the Iowa School Nurse Organization, working at the state level for legislative support of school nurses to enable them to care for students more effectively. At a recent Iowa Nurses Association convention, she was articulate and eloquent in presenting her case to increase the number of school nurses in the state. Subsequently, in 2007 legislation was passed and signed by Governor Chet Culver to ensure every school district in Iowa hires a school nurse and is to work towards a ratio of one school nurse per 750 students.
Yearous served as the chair of the Iowa legislature's mandated Healthy Children's Task Force in 2006 and provided leadership with a comprehensive and holistic view keeping the needs of youth central to the final recommendations. In 2007, Yearous was selected by Lieutenant Governor, Patty Judge, to serve as the Commissioner for the 2nd Congressional District on the Commission for Wellness and Healthy Living. Yearous was one of five commissioners and the voice representing the wellness of youth at a critical time when youth health issues are more frequent and complex than ever before. The Commission on Wellness and Healthy Living explored how Iowans define wellness, identified steps to improve the health of Iowans, and focused on how to enhance the wellness efforts in Iowa communities. As a Commissioner of this group, Yearous actively led town meetings in the 2nd Congressional District gathering input on how to improve the health of Iowans.
Yearous became involved in school nursing through a unique partnership between Mercy Medical Center and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids. This partnership was developed to create clinical experiences for nursing students in primary and secondary parochial schools and to provide health care services for students in the schools. In her role as a nurse educator, Yearous initiated the incorporation of PDAs—small handheld computers—in the education of nursing students. Currently all faculty at Mount Mercy College have PDAs and several students are also adopting the use of PDAs During her time as a school nurse, Yearous initiated an innovative school based mental health screening program, called TeenScreen, at a Cedar Rapids high school in consultation with the program designers at Columbia University and in collaboration with Cedar Rapids community members. Dedicated to the early detection and early intervention of mental health issues in youth, the program was the first of its kind in Iowa and is now being expanded under a grant from the Iowa Department of Public Health to serve all high schools in Linn County. She has also introduced other forms of technology into her professional work, including developing an online school health registration program currently being used in four schools in the Cedar Rapids area. The online school health registration program provides the school nurse with current student health information and emergency health plans before school starts each year allowing the school nurse to provide safe, efficient, and effective care in the school setting.
The first young alumni nominee ever recommended by the UI College of Nursing, Yearous has clearly earned this prestigious award for her energetic work that has positively influenced the lives of so many young Iowans—and promises to do so for generations to come.