Archive for Service Learning

Triumph Over Limitations

Jordan Waites, BSN Junior, BUNDLE Scholar

My name is Jordan Waites. I am a Junior in the traditional BSN program. I am an active member of Emory Global Health Nursing Association, Global Medical Missions Alliance, Emory Student Nurses Association, and BUNDLE scholar. I have always enjoyed aiding underserved populations through various volunteer opportunities. I have served in rural areas of New Mexico, Alaska, and Peru. Additionally, I have volunteered at Mommy & Me Family Literacy Program with Friends of Refugees in Clarkston, Georgia. After observing the needs of these populations, my long-term goal is to provide compassionate patient care in the mission field. I am grateful for the opportunities provided by Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing because volunteer work is a true passion of mine. When I found out about an opportunity to volunteer at a weekend camp for families with high-functioning children on the autism spectrum, I felt led to offer my time. I personally felt passionately about this opportunity because I have an adult brother who struggles with Asperger’s Syndrome. I have witnessed society’s negative attitude towards my brother. He is a happy, unsuspecting young man who wants to be accepted. I realize the importance of unconditional love, compassion, and the need for positive collaboration between families and counselors.

As a volunteer “Family Pal,” my task during the weekend camp was to assist families with activities. This allowed me to work very closely with children on the spectrum as well as their family members. As I was exposed to various families, I noticed that although many of the children were on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, they were all unique. Each of them had different struggles and concerns. Many could verbally communicate, whereas some only used 2-3 word sentences. Some could implement problem-solving, however, others experienced anxiety during activity. Throughout the weekend, I heard the quote, “When you meet one child with autism, you only meet ONE child with autism,” and I could not agree more with the statement. The struggles of one child could be another’s strength and vice versa. I learned through my camp experience that children and adults on the autism spectrum require personalized care. I believe that this knowledge is vital to understand as children and adults continue to be diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

I could not be happier that I took advantage of the opportunity that was provided to me by the School of Nursing. I am sure that many of the families who attended are very pleased that they were given the opportunity as well. On the final day of camp, a mother shared with me that her daughter recently had trouble with peers at school. The child would pull her hair out due to frustration and anxiety and children at school would question and mock her. The mother explained to me that camp was an opportunity for her daughter to be around other children who may struggle with the same difficulties. She expressed that the weekend camp was a safe place for her child to triumph over her struggles. In a similar way, volunteering at a weekend camp was a wonderful opportunity for me to step back from the stress of exams and deadlines in nursing school. It was a unique experience that enabled me to make a positive impact in the lives of others. Individuals with disabilities often are stigmatized, encountering not only physical barriers in daily

Individuals with disabilities often are stigmatized, encountering not only physical barriers in daily life but also emotional barriers. Loved ones cannot always protect them from subtle forms of discrimination and prejudice. School-age children with disabilities often have negative school experiences related to their disability. I understand the support families need and the importance of empathetic care. As a nurse, I look forward to providing support and helping families create a positive environment, focusing on their child’s aspirations instead of their limitations.

How Nursing School Showed Me a Difference World

Elizabeth Balogun, BSN Class of 2017, BUNDLE Scholar

Whenever I get the question “Why did you choose nursing school?”, I almost always respond with my usual, “You know, it just kind of happened.” That question takes me back a bit and makes me think about why I chose nursing and how I got here. Occasionally I even think back to an information session where we were presented with the wide varieties of undergraduate studies at Emory. I remember that I turned to my friend, and laughed at the idea of becoming a nurse. Although it often feels like nursing school was just something that just happened to me, I sure am glad that it happened. I am glad that I tagged along with my friend to a pre-nursing club “Meet the Juniors” event that got me thinking about nursing school. I am glad that this profession, that is rooted in caring, found me.On my very first day of classes in nursing school I hoped and prayed that I had made the right decision, and I have found over the course of my four semesters here that I am indeed in the right place. I did not know much about public or global health or the role of nurses in those settings until I got to nursing school. I did know, even before nursing school, that I would like to spend my career providing care in any way I could to anyone who needs it. As a scholar in the Building Nursing’s Diverse Leadership at Emory (BUNDLE) program I have learned about public health nursing, the need for cultural diversity and awareness in nursing and nursing care, and being a nurse leader and a force for change. Between my classes and my BUNDLE experience I found that I wanted to be a public or global health nurse. My alternative winter break trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica (which I was on the fence about going to) really confirmed that for me.Upon arrival in Montego Bay, we were on the road and ready to take on our first project a few hours after arriving. I had never been happier and filled with a greater sense of fulfillment while immensely exhausted as I was on this trip. We were gone from early in the morning to late at night setting up clinics in churches, teaching reproductive health, doing yoga with hearing impaired students and so much more. One of many profound moments for me was when a man who had visited our church clinic came back with a bunch of plantains for a student who had taken his blood pressure to show thanks for the care he received. Our clinic on that day simply offered blood pressure and glucose checks, BMI calculation, some health education, and a few incentives such as anti-fungal cream and reading glasses. These are things that do not seem like much to us in the United States, but a farmer in rural Jamaica valued these simple things so much that he was willing to give us his produce as a token of appreciation.This experience solidified my goal to become a public/global health nurse. It reminded me that there are people around the world, and even in the United States, who do not have the resources that we take for granted. Whenever I think back to the experience, I want to continue to strive toward the goal of sharing the skills and knowledge that I have been fortunate enough to gain through my nursing school experience and training. I want to use these skills to empower others around the world to take charge of their health. I hope to continue to learn and push myself as an individual and a nurse from my experiences with the diverse groups of people I encounter.

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Elizabeth Balogun is a BSN 2017 student and a BUNDLE scholar. She is from Lawrenceville, Georgia and hopes to become a public/global health nurse providing care for low resource and underserved populations around the world.

A Global Health Opportunity in Our Own Backyard

Jessica Nooriel, junior BSN student and BUNDLE scholar

In my first semester of nursing school, my volunteer hours were spent at the Friends of Refugees program called Mommy and Me in Clarkston, Georgia. In this Family Literacy program, mothers are taught ESL while their children are exposed to the English language as well through language nutrition. This intervention is based upon evidence and multiple studies, and these studies have shown that the more exposure to words a child receives in his or her first few years of life, the higher their chances of achieving literacy in his or her younger school-age years and the better chances they have of attending university and obtaining jobs later in life. So, in short, language nutrition is of utmost importance, especially for this population of refugee children who are being raised in homes in which English may not be used often.

After my first semester volunteering with this program, I had spent sufficient time in the various classrooms interacting with the children and I thought that I had a grip on what public health meant for this community. It was plain and simple. Learning the language was the most important factor in the process of these refugees becoming integrated into American society, so I thought.

This semester, my second at the nursing school, was when I began my full population health clinical. Coincidentally, I was placed at the same site as where I volunteered last semester, the Friends of Refugees Mommy and Me program. Since I had spent some time volunteering at Mommy and Me last semester, I thought I knew what to expect for my clinical portion of population health at Mommy and Me. As before, I thought I would arrive at the Clarkston refugee school, be introduced to a new class’s teacher, and then spend the morning speaking and playing with the refugee children of that class until their mothers came to retrieve them at noon.

During my second clinical day at Mommy and Me, though, all of my expectations were exceeded. This time, I felt more empowered. During our pre-clinical meeting in the morning, we discussed our roles as student nurses in this clinical—which involves responsibilities such as noticing refugee children who may have health conditions that aren’t being treated or observing community-wide health issues or gaps in knowledge. This time around at Mommy and Me, I was given a task and a tangible goal, to improve the overall health outcome of the Clarkston refuge community, whether through individual or community actions.

My morning began as I expected. I joined an older toddler classroom, where I aided with snack time, played with the children during playtime, and gave the children as much language nutrition as I could. However, after lunch, my instructor took my group to a refugee resettlement agency, New American Pathways. All we were told was that we would be helping the agency with a program they were planning. I went into this meeting with few expectations.

When I walked out of the New American Pathways building after our meeting, I felt empowered. I felt that my one year of nursing education could already be used to make a difference. The opportunity that we were asked to help with was a Women’s Sexual Health Education class for Middle Eastern and Eastern African Refugee women involved in the North American Pathways organization. My clinical group was given the responsibilities of finding reliable academic sources, creating an appropriate lesson, and fully executing the class when the day came. The education of these women now fell in our hands. And we could feel the immense responsibility that we now all had. We have just begun research on topics in women’s health, and my excitement is growing with each step in the process.

In my time at Mommy and Me, I feel that this experience will equally benefit me as it does the refugees we interact with. I will have my assumptions challenged, and I will come out a more aware and conscientious person. Since my own parents came to the United States as immigrants just two decades ago, I am gaining a better glimpse through interactions with the families at Mommy and Me, just what my parents went through on their journey toward making the United States their new home.

 ***

Jessica Nooriel is a junior BSN student. She chose nursing for its holistic views on both preventative and curative medicine. Her passion for exploring the various health practices and beliefs of different communities and cultures drove her to join the Emory International Nursing Students Association (EISNA). She is tri-lingual in English, Farsi, and Hebrew, and hopes to use these skills for interpretative services within health care.

¡Wepa!

Yesterday we drove from Caguas (near San Juan) to the south side of the island. We are in Ponce to work at a nursing home for our last service day, but first we had a delightfully warm welcome from the Ponce civic representatives, including the head of tourism. We explored the quaint and colorful town square and some of the city’s main sights, including a tree believed to be more than 500 years old.

At Parque de la Ceiba

The director of tourism passes out “Ponce Passports” for our tour of the city. Credit: David Zhao

Ponce town square. Credit: David Zhao

 

Today we served at Asociacion Benefica de Ponce, home to about 35 senior citizens. We helped with bathing and dressing, medication administration, and wound care. We also attended a lecture on palliative care by one of our leaders, Dr. Weihua Zhang. Members of the nursing home staff as well as nursing assistant students sat in on the lecture, which included an insightful comparison of end-of-life care in the continental U.S. versus Puerto Rico. As one might expect, many of of the emotions and rituals are the same, but we did learn that some people on the island practice Santeria, a Caribbean religion with its own spiritual traditions.

 

One of the most profound parts of our visit to the Asociacion was connecting with the clients one-on-one. One of our leaders, Gladys Jusino, took out her guitar and sang traditional Puerto Rican songs with the clients.

Gladys Jusino plays guitar for a nursing home client. Credit: David Zhao

A bed-ridden woman listens to music at the Asociacion. Credit: David Zhao

A client and nurse of the Asociacion clap along to music. Credit: David Zhao

 

We were reminded that a smile and a gentle squeeze of the hand are universal gestures that transcend language barriers.

Credit: David Zhao

Credit: David Zhao

Credit: David Zhao

 

We ended the day with a bird’s eye view of Ponce and sleepy car ride back to our headquarters near San Juan.

Credit: David Zhao

 

Our service learning trip has come to an end, and tomorrow we fly back to Atlanta. I think I can speak for everyone in our group when I say that we were humbled and honored to have been a part of this trip to Puerto Rico. We met incredibly gracious and intelligent people, we learned about the island’s vibrant culture and history, and we aimed to care for, in however small a way, some of its most vulnerable citizens. Thank you to our brilliant and fearless leaders, Gladys Jusino and Weihua Zhang, and their family members that accompanied us.

Wepa, a Puerto Rican word that implies joy and good cheer, was brought up a lot during this trip. Gracias, Puerto Rico, for welcoming us with open arms. We will be back! ¡Wepa!

Un Llamado Superior: Day 4 in PR

Today we spent the morning at the Colegio de Profesionales de la Enfermera, an organization for nurses in PR similar to the American Nursing Association, learning about nursing and the state of health care in Puerto Rico. In order to practice as an RN, nurses here must have a college degree in nursing as well as membership in this professional association. The director of the Colegio, Juan Carlos, told us that a recent Puerto Rican law decreased the number of sick and vacation days for all workers, and increased their probation time before becoming permanent employees. Juan Carlos also told us that in recent decades, Puerto Rico has seen a “brain drain” of its workforce to the continental U.S., including the departure of nurses. The Colegio is hard at work advocating for better pay and working conditions for its members.

Posing with Florence Nightingale at Colegio de Profesionales de la Enfermera. Credit: David Zhao

Juan Carlos ended his talk with a quote in Spanish from Florence Nightingale that referred to nursing as “un llamado superior,” a higher calling.

After another yummy Mofongo meal for lunch, we traveled to a local hospital where a very special organization – PITIRRE – is headquartered.

Mmmmofongo. Credit: David Zhao

 

I’ll let one of our team members, Tara Noorani, take it from here:

“My admiration for nurses was born from an exposure to street medicine. Their ability to address the entirety of the person was something displayed during each client interaction.

Wednesday (March 8th) began at PITIRRE de Iniciativa Comunitaria, an addiction treatment program offering healthcare, education and prevention services to homeless and HIV-positive clients. The pitirre is a bird found in Puerto Rico weighing nearly 1.5 ounces and personifying somewhat of a powerful underdog. El pitirre serves as a symbol of hope and resilience in the face of adversity. The staff at PITIRRE emphasized the bond between ourselves and our fellow human – the tie between providers and clients. They encouraged us to understand our intersection as brothers and sisters and the power in our collaboration with one another.

With this lesson in mind, we began our night by making sandwiches with members of Operacion Compasion de Iniciativa Comunitaria, a mobile clinic project rooted in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. We assembled hygiene kits, brewed gallons of coffee, and collected juice boxes, medications and wound care supplies into their mobile clinic truck. From 10pm to 3am, we combed the streets, in search of possible clients.

Led by two of the most humble leaders of Operacion Compasion, we treated a total of 38 clients and performed wound care on 6 of these people. We offered blood pressure screenings, glucose checks, coffee, juice and sandwiches. We witnessed the isolation a person endures in the street and how the label “homeless” overlooks their humanity. Inevitably this manifests into a marginalized community drowning in stereotypes and misconceptions.

When I reflect on this experience, I’m reminded of the importance of being present with those who suffer. The nature of homelessness obscures the client’s voice and visibility. By meeting these people where they are, we are choosing to resist the poverty and injustice of their circumstances. As student nurses, we have an obligation to uphold the individuality and autonomy of each client and oppose the forces impeding their access to care.

As Emory students, it is a privilege to serve the people of Puerto Rico, a pleasure to have been enriched by their culture and an honor to advocate for their health care needs.”

La Feria de Salud – PR Day 2

Today began the real reason we came to beautiful Puerto Rico: to be in service to the community. We started the morning with a yummy breakfast of eggs and sausage that the wonderful staff at the local Salvation Army (where we’re staying) made for us. We then got to work on our health fair (or, in Spanish, La Feria de Salud).

Local residents from public housing came to the Salvation Army chapel where we had several tables set up: blood pressure checks, glucose checks, self-breast exam information, and smoking cessation. We split up into teams of two or three and about 30 people came. We (along with our Puerto Rican-native professor and our nurse practitioner professor) counseled people on lowering blood pressure and managing diabetes. Some realized they needed to go back to the doctor to adjust their medications, and others got advice on lifestyle modifications. We felt strongly that we made a difference in these people’s lives, and they expressed their gratitude. It was a lovely morning of health education and outreach!

Checking blood sugar

Teaching a breast self-exam

During lunchtime, we were lucky enough to have a talk with Dr. Dana Thomas, a career epidemiology field officer with the CDC. She spoke with us about how Zika has affected Puerto Rico, and we were shocked to hear that an estimated 400,000 people have been infected with the virus. One important takeaway was that 75% of people infected with Zika are asymptomatic, so it can spread among people without their knowledge.

Universal Sim Man

In the afternoon, we visited National University College, a private university system on the island that has a robust nursing program. We received a warm welcome complete with gift bags and hats, and were able to see how nursing students here learn — turns out, it’s quite similar to us! They have simulation rooms and clinicals. We even recognized some of the sim mannequins as the same ones we have at Emory.

 

We then had a discussion with some of the nursing students about life as a student and nurse in PR. They were extremely knowledgeable and friendly. We learned that it’s more difficult here than in the continental U.S. to get a job as a new nurse. In fact, many of the students were hoping to come to the states to work once they graduated. We also realized that nursing is a universal language — we were all in the profession for the same reasons — to be an advocate for our patients and to promote and heal. Some of their students were fresh out of high school and some were older and had families, just like our programs. No matter our backgrounds, we all could commiserate about how tough nursing school is. 🙂

Swapping nursing student stories

Big thank you to the amazing staff and students at National University College in Caguas, Puerto Rico!

Welcome to the Jungle – PR Day 1

What a day! The 11 Emory students in our group, plus two wonderful Emory professors, arrived in Puerto Rico yesterday evening and ate a traditional meal of mofongo, which is a mix of fried green plantains and, in our case, shrimp. We also sampled some conch meat — you know, the creature inside the shell you hold up to your ear and listen to the ocean with. What a treat!

Delicius mofongo

 

If you like (alcohol-free) Pina Coladas…

 

Today was our one “free day” of the week, and we packed in as many Puerto Rican activities as possible. We started in the Yunque National Forest, southeast of San Juan. We hiked through the jungle and splashed around in waterfalls. We drank homemade lemonade and got amazing views of the country from atop a fire lookout tower.

El Yunque National Park

 

We ended the day with a swim in the ocean, some snorkeling, and fried fish and ceviche. We practiced our Espanol and are resting up in our Salvation Army dorms for tomorrow’s activities — let the service learning begin!

Graduate Students Reflect on Immersion Experience during West Virginia Flooding

WV_Houses

School of Nursing graduate students participate every year in a two-week immersion program in West Virginia through the Lillian Carter Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility. Our students work in partnership with area federally-qualified community health centers to promote health and prevent disease throughout the region. Led by faculty Advisors Carolyn Clevenger and Debbie Gunter, students Andrea Brubaker, Phillip Dillard, Kimberly Eggleston, Hannah Ng, Jill Peters, Allysa Rueschenberg, and Abigail Wetzel, were providing essential health services through four community clinics located in cities to the north and south of Charleston. Two of our students, Phil Dillard and Abby Wetzel, were working in a clinic in Clendenin, a town 25 miles northeast of Charleston that was hit hard by the storms.

Phil Dillard discusses the experience in this WSB-TV Channel 2 interview. WSB Interview – West Virginia Flooding

Medicine and Compassion: A Journey through Italy

Every day, we learn to remind ourselves as healthcare providers how to be effective communicators and focus on patient-centered care. We learn about therapeutic communication and how to build an empathetic and compassionate relationship with our patients. However, 78% of providers think that they are providing compassionate care, and only 54% of patients think that they receive it. These numbers are not good numbers. This past summer, I received a scholarship to travel to Italy to study what it means to practice medicine with and without compassion. The program explores in-depth Italian literature, art, architecture, history, cultural and political development throughout the ages, from the early Etruscans, Phoenicians and Greeks to the Italy we experience today visiting towns from the northern alps to the southern shores of Sicily. We visited over 50 sites and museums, and over 47 towns and cities including visits to: Orvieto, Pisa, Assisi, Cinque Terre, Siena, Montalcino, San Gimignano, Pienza, Lucca, Florence, Ravenna, Padova, Vicenza, Venice, Verona, Naples, Pompeii, Sicily, Capri, Paestum, Sorrento, Matera, and many more. It is unique journey that integrates medical humanities with on-site cultural immersion. We worked to analyze visual art, cultural history and literature in the lens of what is compassion and what lessons can art communicate to healthcare?

Through each town, we investigated notions of compassion, mercy, and charity as civic and religious virtues illustrated through Italian history, art, literature social institutions, current events and daily life. With group discussions, individual research and lectures from faculty from the Center for Ethics and Schools of Medicine & Public Health, I was able to fully grasp the scope of Italian culture, history and identity. I learned that the arts and humanities help us demystify the notion of death, dying and suffering by providing countless examples of lives that have come before us. Our world is uncomfortable with conversations that speak about human fragility and finality, and it is increasingly hard to speak about the self completely in conversations because there is never an appropriate place or time to talk about such deep questions in the whirlwind pace of the environment that we all live in. Therefore, we all find ourselves by the bedside of those who are suffering and dying where the patient, health care professional, and visiting relatives struggle with how to be present to one another in their vulnerability.

Experiencing art may help to open one’s mind to a different way of thinking, to see the world or situation through another’s eyes. This helps to develop empathy, an essential element in a healthcare provider’s character. During my six weeks in Italy, I examined historical and recent writings from the medical humanities and explored the meaning of compassion and how it has affected the care and health of people over time. I explored multiple paths of communication with “others,” allowing an enhanced sense of global vision within me. I also looked at renditions of compassion in Italian art, attempting to understand what various artists sought to communicate about compassion, suffering and healing. This program has been the most challenging academic and personal journey I have ever had at Emory, but every moment has been invaluable and transformative. It is an experience that has changed my perspective on traveling to other countries, learning about other cultures, and ultimately, I have gained a deeper understanding about myself.

Alisha is a BSN student and sees that being a BUNDLE scholar is an opportunity to embark on a path that combines clinical practice and community engagement. From her past experiences of volunteering in Honduras or doing research in the cardiology department, she has discovered her passion to would in nursing, public health and research. Alisha’s goal is to work with underprivileged populations by providing compassionate patient care despite the limited resources and tragic levels of poverty and sickness.

You can contact me at abhima5@emory.edu


Information about the program used in this article has been referenced from the source below, along with using the insights and notions she learned from her professors, Cory Labrecque and Judith Moore.

http://www.italianvirtualclass.com/pdf/summer2016.pdf

My BUNDLE Experience

Kevin_CurrieAs a future nurse, I hope to develop a strong base of critical care expertise by working in an ICU before pursuing a doctorate in nurse anesthesia practice. As I develop professionally as a nurse through college and into my career, I strive to go beyond simply caring for patients and hope to make a meaningful impact in the field of nursing and beyond; that is to say that I strive to become more than a nurse; I want to become a nurse leader. And that is why I joined the BUNDLE Program.

The BUNDLE program has prompted me to visit a fascinating exhibit at the CDC about refugee crises, question what it means to be a leader, and practice my public speaking and networking, among other things. As a man who has wanted to be a nurse for at least six years now, the questioned abilities and masculinity, lack of male mentors, and numerous attempts of redirecting my career ambitions had set doubt in the back of my mind.

The BUNDLE program has offered me an immensely supporting community of beautiful human beings that has given me confidence to cast aside doubt in pursuit of my goals as well as offer constant support through trying times. I believe that a nurse’s holistic way of thinking, constant interactions with society’s marginalized individuals, and highly recognized and respected title help to more fully comprehend and address some of society’s shortcomings and public health needs, in particular.

I see nurse leaders not as leaders confined to the domain of nursing, but rather as unrestricted leaders with unique and valuable qualities; the word “nurse” is a badge of honor to be worn in front of the word “leader”. The BUNDLE program has helped me come to that realization. Thanks to the stimulating activities of the BUNDLE program, I am increasingly more drawn to develop and apply these unique nurse leadership traits in hopes of confronting and combatting some public health and societal issues through research, advocacy, and action.

Byline: I am currently a third year student from Nashville, Tennessee pursuing my BSN at Emory. In addition to my BUNDLE Program involvement, I am in the Honors Program, VANAP Program, and serve as secretary of Emory’s Men’s Water Polo team.