Class teaches lessons outside the classroom
Nursing students gain real world experience
Published: Friday, March 8, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 16:03
The Nursing Department offers an eight-week course for nursing majors that allow students to work with health programs in San Angelo and in communities across Texas.
According to Assistant Clinical Professor of Nursing Ms. Rosy Hester, the course, Community-Based Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, is designed to have students think beyond care of an individual patient.
“This course helps the students think of the community as their client,” Hester said. “When you look at a community, you want to see what the vulnerable populations are.”
According to the class description in ASU’s course catalog, the course “explores health promotion and disease prevention in diverse and multi-cultural communities and vulnerable populations.”
Class members currently are working with vulnerable groups in the population, including the elderly, rape victims and patients diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.
According to senior Sola Oyewuwo, whose group works with AIDS and HIV patients, the class has done two major projects.
Oyewuwo said during the first project, groups assess hospitals and clinics in other communities, interview residents and figure out any health issues the class wants to address. During the second project, teams of four or five students go to an assigned clinical site within San Angelo such as an aids clinic or rape crisis center to evaluate the program.
“Our group helped the AIDS and HIV program by publicizing it more,” Oyewuwo said. “We contacted public locations such as hotels, inns and community
centers to ask if we could bring and put out informational brochures about the facility.”Professional organizations now refer certain patients to the class’s services, according to Oyewuwo.
Senior Michelle Wentworth said the course assesses what a community needs and allows them to apply their knowledge to seek better outcomes.
“This takes all the nursing that we have learned and applies it to settings all over the U.S. whether that is a rural or urban population,” Wentworth said. “[We look for] gaps within the specific system.”
Wentworth’s group focuses on home health and looks into pain management tools and cost issues for the elderly.
“We look into research and background, and we go to agencies and ask what they have in place for certain [issues] that may arise,” Wentworth said. “The agencies may say there is nothing in place, so we say OK, we can put [a solution] into place that could have better outcomes for these patients.”
According to Hester, the students in the course work with the leaders of health agencies to look at the issues and help come up with ways to ‘fill in gaps’ that the agencies may need help with.
“It shows health leaders in the community that not only are we focused on individual care in the facilities where we go, but that we also are considering the community as our client,” Hester said. “We want to expand the students’ view to how can we impact problems before they start.”
Senior Anna Melby said effective nurses need to know about the community.
“Even if we are not working as a community nurse, we need to know what is going on in the community and what it lacks,” Melby said. “This is practice with someone looking over us making sure we are catching all the steps.”
Melby’s group works with the rape crisis center and is doing programs in the dorms on campus about sexual awareness.
Wentworth said the class can be applied [globally], and no matter where they end up in nursing, they can apply what they have learned from the course.
“When we become nurses, we will actually be able to implement this [experience] into our practice,” Melby said. “So this [class] is kind of like our practice run before we do it on our own.”
Some nursing students expressed interest in the course being an entire semester instead of an eight-week course.
“Sometimes I wonder if we would be able to give better presentations or get a better turnout if we had more time,” Melby said. “I would like to see our program continue and have the next group of students take it up so that it would become a yearly thing and not just the nursing students this semester.”
“I would like the class to be a full semester to see what we could potentially do and change,” Wentworth said.
Melby said her group is planning to continue their project through April since it’s Sexual Awareness Month, despite the course ending on March 5.