It’s Report Card Season for Wellness

wellness coachIt’s report card season and up and down the halls I hear teachers talking about make up tests and students saying things like, “My mom says if I don’t get my grades up she’ll…”.  School Nurses are glad we’re exempt from grade stress but we mustn’t forget that we have midterms looming as well.  June 30 will mark the midterm of this year’s round of New Year’s wellness resolutions and this year, for a change, I’m not dreading opening my wellness midterm reports card.

What makes this year different from past years where June would find me sheepishly making excuses about why, despite the best intentions, I had given up on my New Year’s resolutions to take steps to improve my wellness?  The difference is that I discovered the science and the magic of #tinyhabits.

tiny habitsI was lucky to be part of a cohort of School Nurses who were offered the opportunity to cross-train as Wellness Coaches through the Institute for Wellness Education.  Through Wellness Coach training we learned about the science of breaking complex health behaviors into their smallest building blocks called tiny habits.  We learned to build tiny habits, how to anchor tiny habits to a daily activity we’re not likely to skip, and how to reward ourselves when we complete our tiny habits.

Five months into my 2015 New Year’s resolution I just may get an A on my New Year’s resolution midterms.  By breaking down my resolution (to practice mindfulness meditation every day) into it’s tiniest components (get the mat out, sit on the mat for 30 seconds), by anchoring the tiny habits to a behavior I’m not likely to skip (after I shower), and by celebrating every time I complete the tiny habit I have seen this tiny habit sprout and send down roots.  I’m seeing the benefits of my new wellness habit at work and at home.

The tiny habits approach to personal wellness is simple and elegant but it is not necessarily easy.  It took many sessions with wellness coach trainers for me to learn to break those habits down to their tiniest components, to find stronger anchors to hitch them to, and to not skip celebrating success.  I even pulled out my 2014 New Year’s resolution (sketch in my art journal everyday) and gave it a #tinyhabits makeover that has given it new life.

Nurses across the country are discovering the benefits of cross-training as wellness coaches.  The coaching skills help us in our practice with our clients and in our personal wellness as well.  The first School Nurse as Wellness Coach cohort – Abigale Pelletier, Chris Tuck, Amy Wood and I invite you to learn more about this rewarding trend in wellness at our breakout session at the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) 47th Annual Conference in Philadelphia PA.  See you there!

wellness coach session

Now trending upwards: School Nurse blogs

trending upwardsLearn one.  Do one.  Teach one.  That model doesn’t only apply to catheterization and venipuncture skills – it now applies to technology and digital communication.

School nurses are sharing their skills and teaching other school nurses to explore the digital communication toolbox. That is the model of #TANTTT (Teach a Nurse to Tweet Tuesday).  That is the model of the NASN Twitter Mentors at #NASN2014 and #NASN2015.  That is the model of School Nurse Blogs like

Regina Wysocki  

Abby Pelletier      

Brenna Quinn      

me, Jessica Porter

Beth Mattey         

Michelle Sobande

Do you know the line in CPR when we point to the bystander and say, “You – call 911 and bring me the AED”?  Well, I’m pointing at you – Have you thought of blogging as a tool to share your school nurse story?  I would like nothing more that to add your name to this list of school nurse bloggers, of 21st century nurses.

Sometimes I’m tempted to skip to the comments.

NPR storyA recent NPR story highlights how people’s perceptions of what affects their health differ according to socioeconomic status.  I read the article but then I rushed to the comments.  Some comments come from the “pull yourself up by the boot straps” philosophy while other comments call for increased federal aid.

food is powerThe comments are all over the map politically and I realize I see my own conflicted attitudes reflected there.  I have seen inspiring success stories of students overcoming adversity but I also see the soul crushing effects of poor housing and unsafe neighborhoods.  I’ve seen struggling families make healthy choices and I’ve seen families give in to the limited choices available to them in a food desert.

The School Nursing community is beginning to address the health disparities we see every day in our practice.  We are learning to utilize community mapping and GIS technology to identify health disparities.  We seek to upgrade our cultural competency skills and our political advocacy skills to help decrease those disparities.

The NPR site reminds readers to “Please keep your community civil.”  The persistence of health disparities in this land of plenty is a call to action but at the same time, we need to engage families and health care providers in discussion of the root causes of these disparities.  As long as we “keep our community civil”, we don’t have to fear the comments section.

Why School Nurses need to learn to use our outside voices.

recessAs a School Nurse, I love hearing a teacher say to her class as they reach the playground, “Okay class – it’s okay to use your outside voices now.”  I’m afraid that we School Nurses are still waiting for someone to give us that permission.

Why are nurses in general (and School Nurses in particular) so reluctant to take their professional message to Social Media?  Are we so afraid that we are going to impulsively blurt out HIPAA protected client information?  Are we worried that there might be a prohibition against professional use of Social Media buried on page 132 of the Human Resources Employee Handbook?

It’s part of who we are as nurses to be cautious about client confidentiality and policies and procedures but over and over again School Nurses are confronted by the reality that, if we do not tell our story, someone else will tell the story and cast us as a minor character in the narrative.  School Administrators will write our story for us.  State level agencies will write our story for us.

I want School Nurses to be the ones who tell the story of what School Nursing is and what School Nursing can do.  To do that we have to learn to blog.  We have to learn to tweet.  We have to learn to use our outside voices again.