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.

***
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.

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My Experience in Moultrie

Alejandra Del Rocio Mendez, BSN, BUNDLE Scholar

During the month of June 2016, I began my journey as part of the Farm Worker Family Health Program with 14 amazing classmates, nurse practitioner students from Emory, and with students from dental hygiene, physical therapy, and pharmacy programs in Georgia. Located in the South part of the state, Moultrie is a small town home to such appreciative migrant farm workers and children, and generous people who volunteered to provide us with breakfast and lunch, supplies, donations for the farm workers and children, and a place to stay. As part of the Farm Worker Family Health Program, which sends nursing students to Moultrie every year, our goal was to work with an interdisciplinary team and to use the skills and knowledge we learned in our public health, health assessment, and rural health courses and from our clinicals in order to provide health care to a population who faces limited access to care and experiences difficulty overcoming language barriers.

For two weeks, our schedule went as follows: visiting the local elementary school every morning Monday through Friday from 8am until 12 noon, having lunch at a local church around 1pm, resting from 4 to 6pm, and then preparing to go to night camp every afternoon Monday through Thursday from 7pm to midnight and set up mobile stations at local farm camps. Every morning, we drove in carpool groups to Cox Elementary School which was about a five minute drive from the hotel where we were staying at. There, we set up auditory, vision, blood glucose and hemoglobin, height/weight/BMI, and blood pressure stations in order to screen children part of the Migrant Farm Worker summer school program. The purpose of screening each child was to complete a Georgia 3300 public health form so that these kids would have the opportunity to enroll in school if they were to move to a county due to migrant family circumstances. We took turns gathering groups of children and taking them to the nurse practitioners, dental hygienists, or physical therapists for them to receive their check-ups.

In the late afternoon, we prepared for night camp by gathering our flashlights and head lights, spraying ourselves from head to toe in mosquito repellant, and practicing some phrases in Spanish to communicate well with our clients. Our trip began by caravanning to the farm camp for that night. At arrival, we set up tents with stations for intake, blood pressure, hemoglobin and blood glucose, height/weight/BMI, and foot care, while the nurse practitioners, dental hygienists, pharmacists, physical therapists, and research students set up their own tables. Nursing students were paired with one or two more nursing students in the group and assigned to a different station each night, so we each had a chance at each station. Believe it or not, my favorite station was foot care. I enjoyed the time I spent with each of the clients and the opportunities to talk to them in Spanish. One thing I enjoyed doing was adding humor to my conversations to help the farm workers feel relaxed and less embarrassed about a nursing student taking care of their feet. Additionally, I took the time to assist the nurse practitioners, dental hygienists, pharmacists, and physical therapists with interpretation since I am fluent in Spanish. During this experience, it was important to note that the care we provide to the migrant farm workers and their families might have been the only health care they receive throughout the year.  For me, it was important to communicate well with the clients to make sure we gathered the correct information to assess, diagnose, and educate. There were several moments during my time in Moultrie when the farm workers came up to tell my classmates and I how grateful they were for all that we were doing for them and the time and effort we dedicated to help them.

An exciting part of my Moultrie experience was the opportunity to experience being out in the fields to pick out vegetables for ourselves. Going into the fields and picking out vegetables opened my eyes and increased my awareness of the importance of the work by the migrant farm workers. Since this experience, I have not forgetten where my food comes from and who picked it, and have thanked farm workers for their important job.

My time in Moultrie was a lifetime experience as I made new friends, met some hardworking and humble workers, and gave to a population who provides so much to us. Moultrie holds a special place in my heart. Honestly, I wish I could have been there much longer, and hopefully one day, I will have the opportunity to return and do much more. The need for healthcare services is so great in this area and with this population and it brought such a warm feeling to my heart to be able to share a laugh with the farm workers and with the kids despite the life situations they must face. My experience with the Farm Worker Family Health program has been very rewarding and very meaningful, because it proved to me that engaging in a nursing career was the best decision I have made.

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An experience in public health — Alternative winter break in Nicaragua

Ali Martin, BSN Class of 2017, BUNDLE Scholar

As a Building Undergraduate Nursing’s Diverse Leadership at Emory Scholar (BUNDLES), I have been given many opportunities to be immersed in public health seminars, lectures, and value adds. This program prepared me for my alternative winter break trip to Nicaragua in December where I was able to serve a vulnerable population in need. I traveled to a city in Nicaragua called Rivas, where I rotated with my peers through their local public hospital. We learned how their health care system worked and how they cared for their patients.

In my first day in the hospital, I was humbled by how privileged we are in the United States when it comes to our health care system. I watched the nurses in Rivas use all the resources they had — which were not many, in order to give the best quality care to their patients. For example, the nurses used gloves as tourniquets, rather than protective personal equipment. They also used leftover medication vials as specimen collectors for urine and stool samples. I watched them perform these tasks and admired the depths they went to when caring for their patients.

The nurse to patient ratio was nearly 1:10 and the nurses worked hard to attend to each patient in a timely manner. With minimum resources available, the nurses shared blood pressure cuffs and thermometers. Unfortunately, the equipment was hardly ever sanitized between use as there was barely enough solutions to clean the equipment in the proper aseptic manner. Although this hospital suffered from a lack of resources, the nurses and health care providers always put their patients first and made sure that they received the best quality of care. They had the biggest hearts and were so eager to teach us with their knowledge and about their health care system. I appreciated their kindness and helped in any way I could.

We spent the first two days in Rivas at the local hospital. After that, we traveled to a small, rural community called El Tambo that invited us to educate them on health care in the United States. We decided to focus on screening and prevention of common diseases that had the highest incidence in their specific population.

We arrived that afternoon and I thought we were just making a stop on the side of the road when our bus suddenly pulled over. I was taken aback when I realized that we were actually in El Tambo. The homes were small shacks with no electricity or running water, however this was home to them and they would have it no other way. They greeted us all with kind smiles and were genuinely happy to have us in their community. They brought us to the local “church” which was just a pavilion with a small stage. We broke off into groups and each took turns presenting the screening material we prepared before the trip. My group focused on breast cancer self exams, because the community had asked us to teach them about breast cancer prevention. We educated them on the pathophysiology of cancer and then went on to show them how to properly perform a breast self exam. They demonstrated back on how to do the breast self exams themselves and we finished our presentation filling fulfilled that we had taught them something new that would benefit their health for the future.

The other groups presented on other common disease processes like diabetes and hypertension. The community and families were so grateful that we were there that they prepared us a homemade meal that was commonly made in their village. We were almost in tears from their generosity. They purified the water so we could drink it, and then they sat back and watched us eat, not even eating themselves.

This trip taught me a lot about the importance of public health, not only in the United States, but also in other countries. Primary and secondary prevention efforts are vital in keeping populations healthy wherever it may be in the world. I will take this experience and what I learned from it throughout my entire nursing career.

***
Ali Martin is a graduating BSN senior from Blue Ridge, Georgia. In addition to being a BUNDLE scholar, she is involved on campus in organizations such as Atlanta Pediatric Cancer Outreach and as a peer mentor for the School of Nursing.

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Caryn’s Big Word

Ariel McKenzie, BSN Candidate 2018, BUNDLE Scholar

The encounter I had with Caryn happened at the International Bible Church in Clarkston, Georgia. My service learning group was delegated the task of encouraging language nutrition amongst refugee mothers and children as a part of the Mommy and Me family literacy program. Encouraging mothers to engage their babies and children as their conversational partners can be difficult when a language barrier already exists between the volunteer and the family. I had the privilege of working with the young toddler class and the ease with which they pick up words boggled my mind at times.

Caryn, a young toddler from Vietnam was one of the more social kids in her group. She would come into class and made sure all the volunteers saw how pretty she looked that day. She played with all the children and chatted away as she moved from station to station. The room was equipped with playing stations that included cars, blocks, a play kitchen, books, and a large box filled with treasures buried in dried black beans. There was a stipulated schedule for each day and play time was the first item on the list. When I came into class on a Thursday morning, I sat down by the cars and train playing station and began talking with the kids. On any given day, few kids even respond to my over-the-top excitement and enthusiasm, but Caryn thought it was so funny. She came and sat at the station with me and we began to play with a green bus. The bus had a Triceratops dinosaur on it and I thought it would be worth a try to see if she could pronounce the word Triceratops. I pointed to the dinosaur and said di-no-saur slowly and clearly. She repeated the word “dinosaur” with ease so I proceeded to say Tri-cer-a-tops. She sounded out the word and within minutes, she was calling every dinosaur in our bucket a Triceratops. I was shocked to say the least. Few kids even spoke to me and here was one that was sounding out a word that some elementary school kids rarely use.

Empirically knowing according to Carper’s fundamental ways of knowing involves scientific, evidenced based practice (Johns, 1995). Approaching our encounter empirically, I acquired some background knowledge through the Talk with Me Baby training that my service learning coordinator organized. Through the training, I learned the importance of engaging children as soon as they’re born as our language partners and promoting language nutrition within the family. The training provided evidenced based methods for language development in children and the results of implementing those methods as early as infancy.

In addition to applying an evidenced based approach during my interaction with Caryn, I applied Carper’s aesthetic way of knowing by grasping the nature of this specific encounter and acting according to what I believed was appropriate (Johns, 1995).  I noticed Caryn’s behavior in class and I knew she was an outgoing, eager learner. She demonstrated no intimidation while happily playing and talking to the other kids in the class. Taking into account her personal attributes, I thought that encouraging her to pronounce a word might benefit her language development. Additionally, the likelihood of Caryn trying to pronounce that word was high based on her natural curiosity.

Carper’s personal way of knowing begins with the nurse firstly knowing herself (John, 1995).  By addressing my prejudices and being willing to set any obstructive biases aside, a smoother interaction with the kids can occur. Having many close friends that came to the United States seeking a better quality of life, I knew that I was biased in Caryn’s favor. I’ve witnessed my own peers struggle to learn English and how successful they’ve been with continual effort. I know learning a second language can be challenging especially when a person is still learning new words in their native language. However, it can be done and I hope for nothing more than to see the students in the literacy program excel in their language development.

Carper’s ethical way of knowing entails differentiating right from wrong and taking appropriate action (John, 1995). After reflecting on the interaction I had with Caryn and my service learning experience in Clarkston, I conclude that the right action was taken. The families that participate in the program want to be there. They want to learn English and skills that will make their transition to living in America easier. This is why I believe encouraging them to reach their maximum potential is the right thing to do. Even though my interaction with Caryn might not seem extremely important in the grand scheme of things, it was. The satisfaction children experience when they successfully grasp a new skill is one even I remember. The least I can do is help kids experience that satisfaction while enhancing their language development.

My service learning experience in Clarkston differed from other experiences I had with people because this time I felt like I was representing something bigger than myself. Not only was I serving on behalf of Emory’s school of nursing, but I was a nurse to those kids. They didn’t know that I’m only in my first semester of nursing school. I was wearing nurse’s scrubs, so, therefore, I was a nurse. Our service learning group might have been the first nurses the kids encountered since moving here and I really wanted them to feel safe and happy around us so trust could be established instead of fear as early as possible. I’d like to think that with every human encounter that I have while I’m in uniform that I have the opportunity to increase a person’s trust in health care workers. The techniques I used to guide the conversation were building rapport, smiling, over enunciate, and offering positive reassurance. These techniques were helpful because the kids were very young and they often shy away from adults if they sense the person is unenthused. Hopefully, the program will continue to thrive and Caryn’s vocabulary will continue to grow.


References

Johns, C. (1995). Framing learning through reflection within Carper’s fundamental ways of knowing in nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 22(2), 226-234. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2648.1995.22020226.x

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It’s National Public Health Week (April 3rd-9th)!

Sheryl Boddu, BSN Class of 2017, BUNDLE Scholar

As a nursing student and a BUNDLE Scholar at Emory University, I come across the words “Public Health” more times than I can count on any given day. I first became acquainted with this term in my Community Health course, where it was defined as “the promotion and protection of the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play.” But what does this exactly mean?  How does it play in the real-world as one’s job, duties and community outcomes?  I did not truly understand the importance of Public Health and the value its entities hold until my Capstone Clinical experience in Gainesville, Georgia.

Since February of this year, I have been learning about the duties of a Public Health Nurse (PHN) at the Department of Public Health (DPH) under the mentorship of David Donalson. As the designated PHN for District 2, David plays many roles and holds various responsibilities that I am fortunate enough to observe. On a typical day at the DPH, I learn how to answer emails and phone calls, track disease surveillance, observe emergency preparedness simulations, perform data analysis assistance and read about current guidelines and policies pertaining to Public Health matters. DPH in Gainesville particularly focuses on notifiable diseases and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s), such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and HIV, because of the increasing prevalence of preventable cases. This trend has been attributed to poor access to health care, poverty, and language barriers among the underserved populations clustered in the 13 counties located in Northeast Georgia. I received first-hand experience of how Public Health officials can overcome these challenges and promote good health and well-being.

Likewise, I have been introduced to real-life examples and uses of resources and tools such as Online Analytical Statistical Information System (OASIS), State Electronic Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (SendSS) and Georgia Registry of Immunization Transactions and Services (GRITS). While these programs were just abstract ideas in my Population Health course, in the field I saw health care professionals such as Epidemiologists, Data Analysts and PHNs use them to identify patient’s trajectory and the following-step in the process of preventing disease outbreaks. What was particularly intriguing for me was learning about the expanded role of PHNs as defined by the Statute O.C.G.A. § 43-34-23. Under specific protocols, PHNs can perform screenings and physical exams, diagnose a condition, implement a plan, dispense and administer medications, and even follow-up with treatment management and symptom reduction. This allows for a broad scope of practice and application of skills and knowledge among PHNs, which is not otherwise available in the career path of Registered Nurses with a BSN.

Entering this position, I hoped to learn more about the purpose and duties of PHNs. Connecting principles that I learned in class to actual practice made me realize the importance of Public Health and led to my interest in this field. As a novice, beginning a career in healthcare, I feel more confident and prepared because of this unique experience. I look forward to tackling challenges and contributing to the future of Public Health.

***

Sheryl Matthews is a senior, undergraduate student looking forward to graduation this May. In addition to pursuing a future in Public Health, she is also interested in Critical Care and graduate programs in research and innovation. She is an Oxford College continuee, BUNDLE Scholar, Student Ambassador for the School of Nursing, and the treasurer of Savera, Emory’s Indian classical and fusion dance team.

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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.

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Confessions of a Nursing Student

Aaron Montgomery, BSN Junior, BUNDLE Scholar

It was cold. It was 5 a.m. so the sky was still pitch black.  There was not a single car riding through the streets.  I had never seen that stretch of road so empty.  I sped up my walking pace to make sure I didn’t arrive late.  The first day was here and I was determined to make a good impression.  I had a feeling that I was forgetting something so I did ongoing checks to make sure I had my supplies: white shoes, watch, stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and pen.  I started going through all the skills I had been taught in school.  There was no way I was going in unprepared.  As I approached the building, a feeling of nervousness took over.  I took a few seconds to calm down.  Then it was time to go in.  This was my first day of clinical and it was time to get started.

Looking back at that first day in October, it’s hard to believe that I was ever that nervous for clinic.  My first clinical experience has hands down been the best part of my first year of nursing school.  Early in the semester I had a hard time adjusting to the struggles that came with the program.  I had to get used to life in a new city, a new college, and professional school.  I wasn’t used to a full class schedule in addition to clinical experiences.  I didn’t know how to condense the seemingly infinite amount of information down to pass a 50-question exam.  And most of all, I thought I would never get an NCLEX style select-all-that-apply question correct. Ever.  But never once did I second guess my decision to go into nursing.  However, it was hard to envision all that hard work paying off. But that changed when clinical began.

During my first day, I was assigned to a patient in his mid-fifties who was recovering from a stroke.  I started the shift by giving him a bed bath.  Up until that point I had always taken for granted my own ability to bathe myself.  It was truly an honor to help someone perform such a simple but personal task.  After he was ready for the day, I accompanied him to radiology for a swallow evaluation.  I had only read about this procedure in textbooks so I was excited to get to see it in practice.  At the end of the shift, I went with my patient to therapy.  I got to see how the therapists transferred patients from their chairs, helped them walk, and assisted them with their daily activities.  This became valuable during later clinicals when I had to help move larger patients.  I stayed busy the full day.

Then it was time to meet with our clinical group to discuss our day.  My instructor was very direct and open about the expectations she had for us.  She didn’t hesitate to tell me the areas in which I needed improvement.  I worked on those areas, which improved both my confidence and competence.  It was time to leave for the day.  I walked out and instantly started thinking about the following day and how much I dreaded the idea of returning to class.  It hit me that not once during my shift did I think about school, or any of my other struggles.  For those eight hours I put my needs aside and focused on my patient.  There was no doubt that this is what I wanted to spend my life doing.  So far nursing school has had its share of struggles and triumphs, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

***

Aaron Montgomery is a junior in the traditional BSN program.  Originally from Torrington, Connecticut, he moved to Atlanta to attend Emory following four years in the military.  He is part of the BUNDLES program and is hoping to serve as a Student Ambassador for the 2017-2018 school year.

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Taking the Sneeze out of Spring: Helpful Tips for Surviving Allergy Season

Spring is in the air, and so are billions of tiny pollen particles from blooming plants, grasses, and budding trees that trigger allergy symptoms in more than 50 million people every year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The yellow, powdery dust covering everything from cars to patios this time of year is as much a signature of the season as the chorus of birds and the bursting colorful landscapes. But contrary to common misperceptions, this yellow pollen is not responsible for triggering for peoples’ sneezing, runny noses, and itchy eyes. Nurse Practitioner, Clint Shedd, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, said the real culprits are the microscopic grains of pollen that are not visible.

“Pine pollen is what causes the clouds of yellow dust that you see outside,” said Dr. Shedd. “But its particles are too large to be allergenic to most people. Pollen from hardwood trees, grasses and weeds that are light, dry, and carried by wind are what most often causes allergy symptoms.”

The good news is that there is a lot that people can do to ease their suffering. Dr. Shedd shares some helpful information and tips for surviving spring allergy season.

What makes spring particularly difficult for allergy sufferers?     
People are exposed to potential allergens all year-long without ever knowing it. Most of the time, these allergens are not problematic. What makes spring particularly challenging is the compounding effect of irritants from a variety of other sources. The warm, moist conditions creates the ideal environment for things like mold, dust mites, and cockroaches that can trigger both asthma and allergies.  At the same time, trees, trees, grasses, and weeds are starting to bloom and release pollen into the atmosphere. If you consider your allergies a bucket and it’s already three-quarters full with the allergen exposures that humans normally experience year-round, and then you add pollen on top of that, the proverbial bucket eventually overflows and you develop symptoms.

Georgia’s allergy season also lasts longer than in other parts of the country due to its climate and abundance of tress. ‘Peak season’ lasts 10-months and runs between late February and November.

What causes the irritation?
Pollen grains carry 30-40 different proteins on their exterior that are necessary for successful pollination. When pollen grains are breathed in through the nasal passages or come in contact with the membranes of the eye, the immune system mistakenly interprets these proteins as ‘foreign bodies’ and immediately goes into hyper-drive to rid the body of these otherwise harmless substances. It releases a special class of antibodies to attack the allergens, which, in turn, sets off a series of chemical reactions designed to protect the body from infection. Histamines are among the chemicals released into the blood stream during this process and are responsible for triggering the symptoms – the runny nose, swelling, redness, and itchiness – that many experience during pollen season.

What can people do to reduce their exposure to pollen?
There isn’t much you can do about the daily pollen count or the air quality outside, but there are several things that people can do to reduce your exposure to these irritants.  If you are sensitive to pollen, limit your time outdoors as much as possible. As soon as you come home, take off your shoes and change your clothes to limit the pollen and other allergens that you take inside with you. Keep the windows of your home shut and run the air conditioner to continuously recirculate the air inside your home. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters can also be helpful in filtering out dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens from the air inside your home. Wash your hair at the end of the day and frequently wash your hands and face.  Saline lavages, or saltwater nasal rises can also be helpful in flushing irritants out of the nasal passages.

When are allergies more than a minor irritation?
For most people, over-the-counter medications like nasal sprays and antihistamines can help alleviate allergy symptoms like runny noses, watery eyes, sneezing and itching.

But when an adult or child has symptoms that can’t be managed by medicine or avoidance tactics and their symptoms are interfering with their lives and their ability to work, they should consult a specialist, who can help determine exactly what they are allergic to and develop an effective management plan.

Available treatments options for severe allergy sufferers?
For the minority of patients who have severe allergies or asthma triggered by allergies that can’t be controlled with medication and behavioral methods, allergy shots can be very beneficial.

The allergy shots contain a serum of the actual protein of whatever is prompting the patient’s allergic response. The serum is injected into the back of a patient’s arm and contains a very small quantity of the protein that is gradually increased over time. By introducing the proteins it modifies the patient’s immune system and down regulates their allergic response to those proteins over time, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

***
Clint Shedd, DNP, FNP-BC Dr. Clint Shedd, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, earned his Doctorate of Nursing Practice and his Masters of Nursing from the Georgia Health Sciences University. His background is in critical care, pulmonary and allergy medicine.

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Emory Nursing Spring Break Recap

Whether they were experiencing other cultures by traveling the world, relaxing with friends in Atlanta, celebrating wedding anniversaries, providing health care services to those across the globe, or volunteering their time locally, it’s safe to say that our Emory Nursing students had an amazing Spring Break! Check out a recap of their trips below.

Julia Quinn – Eleuthera, Bahamas

“I visited Eleuthera in the Bahamas with ten other students on a service trip with the Lillian Carter Center for Global Health & Social Responsibility, led by Dr. Corrine Abraham and Dr. Elizabeth Downes. There are no hospitals on the island of Eleuthera and healthcare is delivered in a number of (what we would consider) small clinics instead. We worked with the nurses in clinics all over the island to learn about the integral role they play in providing care. We did intake, helped dispense medications, did blood pressure and blood glucose screenings, helped with charting, and learned everything we could from the staff in the clinics and the people we were helping to treat. Other than working in the clinics, nurses in the Bahamas play a key role in health education by visiting the schools to teach about various topics. Each day we went to a high school or primary school to talk with students about mental health, depression, anger management, and how to cope with the difficulties we encounter in life, in an effort to support the World Health Organization’s Let’s Talk campaign seeking to normalize conversation about depression. We had a great time with the students learning from them about the challenges they face and helping them think about how they can face them effectively. We also learned a lot from them about Bahamian culture! We also visited a vocational school called the Centre for Training and Innovation, a strategic initiative to develop the economy on the island of Eleuthera and combat the high unemployment rate. At CTI we did blood pressure screenings and talked with the students there about lifestyle changes they can make to improve their cardiovascular health. Like the high school and primary school students, CTI students had quite a bit to share with us about life on Eleuthera. We had some time to relax as well, including visiting some of the island’s amazing beaches (on both the Caribbean and Atlantic sides of the island), touring the Levy Preserve to learn about Bahamian plants, and exploring the neighborhoods around the clinics we were visiting. We returned from our trip tired, but restored from a week of building relationships with the people of Eleuthera and learning about all their amazing nurses do each day.”

Jessica Nooriel – Jupiter, Florida

“I took a trip down to Jupiter, Florida with a few friends of mine who are students in the college. In the middle of the week, we met up with another group of Emory students, one of whom was nursing student, Mallory Lacy. We all spent a day on the beach, enjoying the sand, water, and sun. It was a relaxing break, which rejuvenated me to come back and finish off the semester strong.”

 

 

 

 

 

Meredith Arevalo – Porto and Lisbon, Portugal

“I had a fantastic time traveling within Portugal, going to Porto and Lisbon. I enjoy traveling to new places, and had planned to go on this trip with my sister; however, she had to cancel going on the trip at the last minute. Still, I decided to go.

Arriving in Porto on a Sunday, I was struck by how many families I saw walking around and spending time with each other. As I learned throughout the trip, family is very important to many Portuguese, and I think this contributed to how warm and welcoming it felt there. I was also struck by how beautiful Portugal was; from train stations to the narrow streets in Lisbon’s old town district, blue and while tile mosaics and bright splashes of color were everywhere, framed by blooming cherry blossoms. Because the country almost entirely borders the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline ranged from steep, dramatic beaches to main square in downtown Lisbon, where people would gather to watch the sunset each night.

It was an incredibly empowering feeling to realize that I’m capable of navigating in a foreign country on my own. At the same time, it was the help and kindness of people I met along the way that made the trip as special as it was. ”

Erica Patton – Tampa, FL and Atlanta, GA

 

“During spring break, I took a trip home to Tampa, FL and got a chance to visit and catch up with my family. I also visited with my dad in Jacksonville, FL. When I returned to Atlanta I had dinner with Hailey Lee and Kim Daniels who are also students in the MSN-NNP program. I finished off my spring break at the CHOA Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic, which I attended for a clinical rotation.”

 

 

 

 

 

Anna Beth Daley – Cancun, Mexico

“Olivia Chan and I, alongside two of our best friends, spent Spring Break in Cancun, Mexico where we went on multiple excursions and spent most of our days by the ocean! Our favorite excursion was to the historic site, Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza is an old Mayan City and one of the seven wonders of our modern world. The large pyramid behind us not only was a place of meeting and power but played a part as a physical representative of their Mayan Calendar! We not only had fun during our Spring Break but we had the pleasure of learning about new cultures and walking in the footsteps of ancient leaders.”

Kimberly Reynolds – Clarkston, GA

“During my spring break, I co-led a Volunteer Emory Alternative Spring Break Trip to Clarkston, GA focusing on the social justice topic of refugee advocacy. During the week, me and eight other Emory students, including a pre-nursing student who will be attending the School of Nursing next year, volunteered with a variety of community partners such as New American Pathways and the Atlanta Food Bank. We played with refugee children at after-school programs, taught digital literacy classes at the Clarkston Community Center, baked with Nepali women, and much more. Some of our group even got to attend the New Americans Celebration at the GA State Capitol and watch the naturalization ceremony that followed. Overall, the entire week was filled with enlightening experiences centered around this local refugee hub. Not only will I treasure the memories made during this trip, but I will also carry what I have learned into my future clinical practice.”

Elianne Carroll – Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates

“In Dubai I went indoor skiing and to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and in Abu Dhabi I toured the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. I have a home over there, as my father lives and works in Abu Dhabi, so I get to visit every year but it’s always an amazing time!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laura Conger – Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Isla Mujeres, Mexico

“I went to Mexico for spring break with my boyfriend and traveled to Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Valladolid and Chichen Itza. This was my first time traveling independently and the first time I have left the states since I was a baby. We saved money and submerged ourselves in the culture by staying with a host family, taking public transportation and eating like locals. Everything I have ever heard about traveling is absolutely true—it changed me in a million ways. I fell in love with Mexico and can’t wait to go back.”

 

 

David Zhao – San Juan, Puerto Rico

“I had an opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico during spring break to learn about the health care system and help care for the underserved population on the island. We had a great introduction to the beauty of the island led by Gladys Jusino and Dr. Weihua Zhang with a beautiful hike in the jungle and relaxing at the beach before our week of service. During the first two days, we set up a health fair to help measure blood pressures, glucose checks, and education sessions on breast exams, smoking, hypertension, and diabetes. The next couple of days we visited a nursing school in National University to observe how their education, healthcare, and nursing differed from the main land. One of my favorite parts of the trip was doing street medicine at night for the homeless. We got together sandwiches, blankets, coffee to give to the homeless that wandered the streets, and provided wound care whenever it was needed. The last day of the trip was spent in a nursing home where we observed how the nurses worked and helped with activities in the nursing home. It was a very good experience for me to see how healthcare is in other parts of the world, and makes me appreciate the things that I have a lot more than I used to before the trip.”

Maggie Carrillo – Atlanta, GA and Nashville, TN

“I had a great, relaxing spring break!  I kicked off my week with dinner at Superica with two friends and classmates – Sam Hydes and Melissa Leake.  I got to spend extra time with my girls (Caroline, age 4 and Margaux, age 2) – we played outside, got ice cream and just hung out.  I spent one day shopping with my Mom and catching up.  I also celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary with my husband!  The second weekend I visited a friend (who is due with her first baby) in Nashville and it snowed!  I also caught up on a lot of schoolwork and exercised (Barre3 classes and 4 mile walks) each day.  Overall, it was a fun week!”

Haja Kanu – Atlanta, GA

“I always enjoy spring break because it gives me a chance to relax and get ahead in my classes. I spent most of my spring break at school and it was actually pretty amazing! I got a lot done and even had time to catch up on my favorite shows. The weather wasn’t too chilly, so I took several relaxing walks around our beautiful campus during my breaks. You don’t need to go to the beach to have fun in the SON!”

 

 

 

 

Kim Hundgen – Beijing, China

“I went to Beijing China for Spring Break! I went to the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Llama Temple, The Great Wall, Fayuan Buddhist Temple, and Tiananmen Square. My absolute favorite part of break was when this older Chinese woman came up to me and my boyfriend and just started talking to us like we were old friends. She was so knowledgeable and knew so much about America. We treated her to dinner and probably spent two hours just talking at the table. She was so inspiring and gave me such respect for being in nursing school. My other favorite part was going to the Great Wall. It was so incredible. The sights of the mountains and the never-ending wall will never be escape my memory. I am so grateful I was able to see it.”

 

Mymuna Kibria – New Orleans, LA

“My friends and I decided to go to New Orleans after my sister and I went this summer and had such a great time. The nursing students that came on the trip were Hannah Lones, Tori Chimberoff, Monica Villarreal, Ali Martin, and Erica Judy. We all absolutely fell in love with the city. We spent most of our time doing the touristy things like grabbing coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde, walking around French Quarter and viewing the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral, shopping on Magazine St., eating brunch at The Ruby Slipper, and lastly dancing the night away on Bourbon St. Overall we can say it was a successful trip and a great last spring break in our undergrad!”

Cara Nachtman – Athens, Greece

“I love to travel! It’s so important to experience other cultures. My fiancée and I decided to go to Athens, Greece for Spring Break. The highlights included the great ruins of The Parthenon and ancient Agora. We saw archaeological artifacts and went on a local food tour. Seeing the birth place of democracy was so powerful! It was a wonderful trip, full of history and great food! I learned and experienced so much. Every trip always leaves me wanting to travel more, we’re already planning our next adventure!”

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Welcome to Eleuthera

We arrived in Eleuthera on Saturday, went to church and explored the island Sunday, and have been busy ever since. Eleuthera is 110 mile beautiful island flanked by the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other. At one place we visited, the island is so narrow that you can see both at once! The island is divided into many small communities, called settlements, each of which has its own personality. We are calling Tarpum Bay settlement our home for the week.

 

 

 

There are several clinics throughout the island that serve the different communities. Each day we have split up into groups of 2-3 students per clinic to work closely with the Bahamian nurses there. Some clinics are very small, staffed by only one nurse, and others are larger with 3-4 nurses, a clerk, doctor, and janitorial staff. As students we assist in whatever way we can; patient intake and triage, medication preparation and administration, family planning, charting, and health screenings. The nurses here have more autonomy than the typical RNs we have worked with in clinicals, and their role is integral in Bahamian healthcare, so we have much to learn from them.

 

 

In addition to our time in the clinics, each day a few of us visits the local schools to talk with students about mental health and raise awareness of its impact. We created lesson plans to engage students of various ages in discussion of coping skills, bullying, anger management, substance abuse, depression, and sexual abuse. These topics are not often discussed in Bahamian life, however many students are struggling in these areas and we have had some great conversations about these topics.

 

 


 

While we’ve had meaningful talks with the students, we have also encountered some challenges. For instance, we faced resistance when talking with some high school students about bullying. We saw bullying firsthand and decided to come back the next day to continue the conversation. We talked with that group’s teacher afterward to identify strategies that could help us be more effective in our next lesson, and we look forward to trying again tomorrow. The teachers have told us how important this subject matter is to their students, but they don’t typically have time for it in their curriculum so they are welcoming us in to have these tricky discussions.

We all switched sites midweek so we are all looking forward to learning from a new group of nurses in a different settlement.

 

Fun fact: there are many friendly community dogs roaming the island and the Bahamians call them “potcakes.”

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