School District 192 nurse earns national award for her wellness policy articleSeeing her name in print for the first time and knowing she was a published author was pretty satisfying for Farmington School District 192 nurse Gail Setterstrom. Being awarded First Publication Award from the Journal of School Nursing and SAGE Publications was even better.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Seeing her name in print for the first time and knowing she was a published author was pretty satisfying for Farmington School District 192 nurse Gail Setterstrom.
Being awarded First Publication Award from the Journal of School Nursing and SAGE Publications was even better.
Setterstrom’s piece, “School Wellness Policies: Opportunities for Change,” appeared in the Oct. 11, 2011 issue of the JOSN national publication. Recently, she found out the journal had chosen hers as the best work by a practicing school nurse. JOSN chooses the First Publication Award recipients based on the article’s contribution to thought and/or practice in school nursing, and the form and clarity of the submission.
Setterstrom didn’t necessarily plan to become a published author. She was in grad school, working on her thesis. The Farmington School District and other neighboring districts had started putting more emphasis on developing wellness policies. She formed her thesis around the impact of wellness policies on education. Even with that done, she chose to keep working. Eventually, she decided to share her work with the Journal of School Nursing.
“It just sort of moved on to, ‘Well, I’m going to write this article, and if it gets published, fine,’” Setterstrom said. “If it gets published, great. I just thought the learning I got was important, and it’s helped me in my work here.”
Farmington and other schools in Dakota County have come a long way in developing wellness programs over the past four or five years, she said. Focusing her research on those programs and policies was easy to do, because some of the data was literally happening as she was collecting it. That was especially true in Farmington, where a new emphasis on the importance of well-balanced, healthful school meals is developing, and new programs are starting to reinforce the benefit of exercise when it comes to student concentration and brain activity in the classroom.
“We want students to be successful and if you come to school and you have food in your stomach, you’re just going to do so much better,” Setterstrom said. “And now a lot of exercise programs are targeting the increase in student achievement. It really makes a difference on how one feels and how you’re able to learn.”
From her position as a district nurse, Setterstrom doesn’t see students day by day like she did earlier in her school nursing career. Now, she looks at what will impact student health and achievement.
Farmington’s wellness policy has been funded, in part, by grants from Blue Cross Blue Shield, and through a partnership with Dakota County Public Health. The policy is crafted by a committee of educators and staff from each of the school buildings in the district.
“Wellness means changing some of the foods kids are eating, more fruits, more vegetables,” she said. “We’re looking at making some changes, coming from lots of different areas. If you offer these things, (students) are going to eat it.”
Writing the article was easy because Setterstrom believes Farmington is well on its way to having a solid wellness program. Receiving an award for her work is flattering, but she’s excited about it for other reasons.
“I’m most excited about some of the changes we’ve done around here to make the environment healthier for our kids. That’s really important to me,” she said. “But I am proud of myself for pulling it off.”
Setterstrom will receive her award in June at the annual meeting of the National Association of School Nurses. The award includes registration and travel costs to the San Francisco conference.