TTU nursing students promote community health

Posted by Lori Shull - Wednesday, November 30 2011
lshull@tntech.edu

 

thumb nursingprojectSenior nursing students at Tennessee Tech University are fusing their technical knowledge with their passions to reach out to the Upper Cumberland region.

Beginning this semester, second-semester seniors have been creating projects and short programs to educate the public about nutrition, safe medication storage, breast cancer awareness and the health benefits of pet ownership, among other things.

“Nurses are seen in the community as a professional health resource and we want to instill that into our nurses,” said Ann Hellman, professor in TTU’s Whitson-Hester School of Nursing. “I want them to think of something they are passionate about and get out in the community and use their passions and skills to benefit the community.”

Earlier this semester, each of the 36 students sought out contacts in the community and began working on a community action and participation project. Many paired off or created small groups based on similar interests.

Several students went to assisted living centers for various projects, including one to hand out medication boxes and discuss safe medication practices with people who take more than one type of medicine, and one to help residents fill out wallet-sized medication identification cards. Others went to a Walgreens pharmacy in Jamestown on Halloween to demonstrate how similar candy and medication look and how difficult it is for children to tell the difference.

Others went to elementary schools to talk to children about healthy snacks or to food banks to share information about affordable and healthy nutrition.

On campus, the nurses-in-training staffed information booths about signs of depression and about breast cancer prevention.

Hellman and fellow nursing professor Barbara Jared began thinking of creating the CAP projects as a result of their ongoing doctoral studies, where they are looking at other ways nurses can promote good health beyond their jobs in hospitals or clinics.

“Oftentimes, when we work in the hospital, we become very rigid about our nursing profession. It’s seen as working three 12-hour shifts or whatever the shift is and that’s nursing,” Hellman said. “Nursing is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week job.”

“We want them to see themselves as more than a nurse only during their shift in the hospital or clinic or wherever they are; we want them to embrace nursing and its impact on those around them.”

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