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School nurse empowers students through self-care asthma program

By: Bonnie Krueger

LaSalle Springs Middle School Nurse Dottie Bardon

School nurse Dottie Bardon, from LaSalle Springs Middle in the Rockwood School District, knows that her job entails more than first-aid treatment and managing flu and cold complaints.

“There’s a little more to it than the student foot traffic that walks in the door,” she said. “But in reality, the management of chronic health care conditions is where we spend most of our time. Nurses help kids manage asthma, diabetes and anxiety and mental health issues – things that impact them every single day.”

Bardon completed nursing graduate work at Mizzou and finished a unique master’s of nursing program outside of Boston. Her focus was asthma education so that kids can learn to self-manage the disease.

“I created a program featuring a checklist to detail how we can capture small amounts of time, and make them add up to better education for kids to deal with their own asthma,” she explained.

The program Bardon created is titled “Asthma in a Minute,” which she presented at conferences for the National Association of School Nurses and the American School Health Association. Recently, Bardon was chosen as the 2017 School Nurse of the Year by the St. Louis Suburban School Nurse Association.

“That organization has a lot of focus on evidence-based practice and research-driven programs and projects. That’s kind of how I think and function,” said Bardon. “It’s an honor to be chosen.”

She also designed a corner of the nurse’s office at LaSalle Springs to focus on wellness and health management. It’s called Self-Care Corner, and it’s designed for students who are managing a health care challenge as opposed to getting treated for an illness or injury.

“There are many resources out there for classroom instruction,” she said. “That’s not realistic in schools these days – we can’t be pulling kids out of class all the time. My challenge was to see if I could figure out a way to use minutes here and there, when kids are coming in to see me. I broke the evidence-based guidelines down into tiny little pieces that could be checked off in one- to five-minute lessons, and I’ve shared that. The idea is: What does the evidence show? How are we going to use that evidence to help kids, and how are we going to share that with other school nurses, so everybody doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel?”

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