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Photo of Yonkaitis, Catherine

Catherine Yonkaitis, DNP, RN, NCSN, PHNA-BC

Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Population Health Nursing Science

Director, Advanced Population Health DNP Program

Associate Department Head, Department of Population Health Nursing Science

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Building & Room:



845 S. Damen Ave., MC 802, Chicago, IL 60612

Office Phone:




Dr. Catherine Yonkaitis holds a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from the University of Illinois at Chicago where she is a Clinical Assistant Professor.  Cathy is a content expert in school nursing, and a child health champion, working with several initiatives to advance school nursing and student health.  She is board certified in Advanced Population Health.

Cathy holds national certification in school nursing as well as an Illinois professional educators license in school nursing.  Throughout her career Cathy has worked in both education and community settings.  She has worked in schools for 15 years, twelve as the director of the School Nurse Certificate program at UIC. After stepping down from the School Nurse director position in 2019, Cathy was appointed as the Director of the Advanced Population Health DNP program in May of 2020.

As the Illinois Director to NASN, Cathy sits on the board of the Illinois Association of School Nurses.  In addition, she is a member of the National Association of School Nurses Board of Directors and a member of the research committee. With over 20 years of teaching in both practicum and classroom settings, Cathy shares her expertise with UIC  school nursing and DNP students as well as with practicing nurses through national and regional presentations, online learning opportunities and published manuscripts.

Selected Grants

Illinois Nurses Foundation, Developing a National School Nurse Curriculum: Prioritizing Knowledge Domains., PI

Sigma Theta Tau- Lambda chapter, Developing a National School Nurse Curriculum: Prioritizing Knowledge Domains., Co-PI

Selected Publications

National Association of School Nurses. (2022).  School Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (4th ed.). Author. [Co-author].

Diegel-Vacek, L. & Yonkaitis, C. F. (2022). A novel approach to fostering academic-practice partnerships: The DNP project executive summary.   Journal of Nursing Education, 61(3):156–158.

Yonkaitis, C. F. & Jacobs, J. (2022). Undesignated glucagon in Illinois: An issue of access and equity. NASN School Nurse, 37(6), 331-336.

Yonkaitis, C. F. (2020). The elevator speech: A 60 second advocacy tool for nurses. American Nurse Journal, 16(1), 54-56.

Willgerodt, M. & Yonkaitis, C. F. (2020). School nurses: Keeping school children, families and communities healthy. American Nurse Journal. 16(2), 44-47.

Yonkaitis, C.F. (2020). Lesson plan basics: Teaching in the classroom with confidence. NASN School Nurse, [epub before print]. doi:10.1177/1942602X19893038

Yonkaitis, C. F. (2018). Evidence-based practice and school nurse practice: A review of literature, Journal of School Nursing, 34(1) 60-67.  doi: 10.1177/1059840517728108.

Maughan, E. D.& Yonkaitis, C. F. (2017). What does evidence-based school nursing practice even mean? Get a CLUE. NASN School Nurse, 32(5) 287-289.

Yonkaitis, C. F. & Shannon, R. A. (2017). The role of the school nurse in the special education process: Part 1: Student identification and evaluation. NASN School Nurse, 32(3), p. 179-184

Service to Community

2020 – 2024               Board of Directors, National Association of School Nurses

2016 - present             Illinois School Based Health Alliance Steering Committee, Everthrive Illinois

2016- present              School Nurse Content Advisory Committee, Illinois State Board of Education

2008 - present            Executive Board Member, Illinois Association of School Nurses

2016 - present             School Nurse Content Exam Expert Panel, Illinois State Board of Education

2008 - present            Communications/Discussion Manager - Illinois Association of School Nurses

2016 - 2019                 Chair, Restructure Committee, Illinois Association of School Nurses

2015 - 2017                 Preschool Vision Screening Task Force, Illinois Department of Public Health

2015                             National Board of School Nurse Certification Item Review

2013 - 2016                 Special Education for School Nurses program development team, Illinois State Board of Education

Professional Leadership

Board of Directors, National Association of School Nurses

NASN Director, Illinois Association of School Nurses

Notable Honors

2022, NASN Recognition Award, National Association of School Nurses

2019, President's Recognition Award, National Association of School Nurses

2018, Outstanding School Nurse Educator, National Association of School Nurses

2016, Daisy Faculty Award, The Daisy Foundation


Doctorate in Nursing Practice
University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL May 2017
DNP Project: Creating change: The incorporation of evidence-based practice in school nurse practice

School Nurse Certification
University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL May 2007
Post-baclaureate certification in school nursing

Masters of Science in Nursing
University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, May 1992
MS Thesis: Dependant-care provided by informal caregivers for older adults awaiting nursing home placement.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing
University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, May 1986

Licensures and Certifications


Registered Nurse, Connecticut and Illinois

Licensed  School Nurse, Illinois-  ISBE Professional Educators License


2014-present               National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NCSN)

2017 – present             Advanced Population Health Nursing  (ANCC)

Professional Memberships

2018 - present             Illinois Public Health Association

2017 - present             American School Health Association

2016 - present             Association of Community Health Nursing Educators

2015 - present             Everthrive Illinois (formerly IL Maternal & Child Health Coalition)

2015 - present             American Public Health Association

2008 - present             National Association of School Nurses

2008 - present             Illinois Association of School Nurses

1992 - present             Sigma Theta Tau- Mu Chapter & Alpha Lambda

Selected Presentations

Yonkaitis, C. F. (2022, December). DNP & Population Health Nursing in the United States, 42nd Annual Conference of Japan Academy of Nursing Science, Hiroshima, Japan [virtual].

Resha, C.A., Yonkaitis, C. F., Rau, W. & Reiner, K.L. (2022, July). School Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, 4th edition: What’s new. National Association of School Nurses Annual Conference [virtual]

Yonkaitis, C. F. & Willgerodt, M.(2022, June).  Developing a national school nurse curriculum:
Prioritizing knowledge domains. School Nurse Educators Special Interest Group. National Association of School Nurses Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA

Yonkaitis, C. F., Madura, K., & Vollinger, L. (2021, September). School Nursing Associations:Restructuring for contemporary practice.  National Association of School Nurses Leadership Academy [virtual]

Yonkaitis, C. F. & Maughan, E. M. (2020). The C.L.U.E. Club- An online work group to put evidence into practice,[presentation rescheduled to 2022] National Associaton of School Nurses 52md Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV

 Yonkaitis, C. F.# (2022, October). Elevator Speech 2.0- A sixty second advocacy tool, Illinois Association of School Nurses 65th Annual Conference. Lisle, IL

Research Currently in Progress

Developing a National School Nurse Curriculum: Prioritizing Knowledge Domains*

Summary: Specialty knowledge is required for nurses to care for the physical, mental, and social needs of school-aged children, their families, and the school community. States, like Illinois, require certification or licensure in an effort to ensure nurses practicing in schools have the requisite preparation. However, there are no standardized education guidelines to assist states in establishing basic school nurse preparation requirements. The lack of guidelines has resulted in wide variation in the content, competencies, and program outcomes of school nursing certificate programs, which in turn, creates confusion over what employers can reasonably expect in a school nurse. Ultimately, this has implications for the quality of care delivered in school settings.

Purpose: The overall goal of this project is to develop a school nursing curricular outline to inform and guide the educational preparation needed for safe, high quality professional school nursing practice. Aims are to: (1) describe the key knowledge domains necessary for entry-level school nursing practice and (2) establish initial FACE validity of those knowledge domains.

Design/Implementation: This study will employ the Delphi technique to identify essential knowledge domains for school nursing practice, followed by open forums using a modified focus group methodology. Participant will be drawn from practicing school nurses, school nurse educators and school nurse administrators across the United States. Three rounds of surveys will be administered to identify and achieve consensus on essential knowledge domains. Initial face validity of these domains will be established through open forums.

Regulation of School Nursing Practice in the United States*

Background: Nursing is regulated by a state’s board of nursing but school nursing practice is typically under local control, resulting in high variability in licensure/certification requirements across the 50 states. This creates multiple challenges:

  • Inefficient data collection to understand the landscape of how SN practice is regulated
  • Lack of portability of school nurse credential
  • Administrator confusion about preparation
  • Confusion over parental expectations about the level of care in school

Purpose: Conduct a summary analysis of school nursing regulations among the 50 states


  • Variables of interest: school nurse title, requirements to practice, certification availability, health professionals able to practice in schools
  • Multi-pronged approach including: data extraction from state administrative codes, statutes, state departments of education and health; review of state nursing organizations; survey of 50 state representatives from national professional nursing organization; expert consultation.
  • Data verification through random audit of data extracted, comparative analyses of data extracted and survey responses

*Research with co-PI Mayumi Willgerodt PhD, MPH/MS, FAAN, FNASN