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Students learn about humanity through community clinical service.

MSU-Bozeman nursing students put community-based nursing concepts into practice. One setting at which they provide nursing services while building their skills and knowledge base is the Great Falls Rescue Mission. The future nurses reflect upon their experiences in post-clinical computer-enhanced discussion groups. Samples of their computer discussion postings follow:

"It's difficult to choose an experience to label as "the most meaningful." The whole experience was meaningful. I've never been to a homeless shelter. Honestly, to my knowledge, I have never spoken to a homeless person before."

"The most meaningful part for me was interacting with the people. It felt good that they appreciated us being there to do things as simple as taking their blood pressures and serving them lunch."

Students learn that their ears are valuable tools, not only to assess blood pressures and lung sounds, but also to hear the clients' stories. Their developing therapeutic listening skills are "gifts" they exchange for the clients' generosity of time and self.

"... I learned an approach to interviewing by being matter-of-fact without using judgmental responses or body language ... this will come in handy in the future as a student and as a nurse."

Through a cooperative arrangement with the City-County Health Department, MSU-Bozeman students administer hepatitis B and influenza immunizations to Rescue Mission clients and staff. Outside of the laboratory setting, these are often the first injections students give. Their excitement is palpable.

"What an amazing experience! We packed a lot into one day, but it was so worth it. The family we got to interact with, the lunch we served, giving my first IM injection ... a highly impacting experience."

Local dentists volunteer their services to clientele. Nursing students conduct pre-dental health interviews that can influence the dentist's plan. They also garner experience obtaining vital signs.

"I got a chance to see a tooth extraction, and I thought it was really interesting talking to the dentist. He gave me some good information about local anesthetics and why he changed the type that he gave my client because they had an elevated blood pressure."

"... if you don't have enough money to eat, buying a toothbrush probably isn't a priority. But having severe dental problems can really affect one's holistic health."

Nursing students discover the intricacies of community networks as they navigate resources with their clients. Senior students, along with their Advanced Practice Nursing faculty, identified diabetes in a previously undiagnosed client. They referred him for evaluation and medical care. Students and faculty continue to fulfill nursing care management roles as they coordinate referrals to medication, financial, and living assistance programs. Building trust with the clientele takes time and care. Students learn to respect the individual experiences, needs and personalities of their clients.

"I was really nervous going into this project because I didn't know how to act around the homeless culture. I have passed them on the streets before and never given them a second glance, almost dehumanizing them. Being at the Rescue Mission was a huge eye opener for me, and made me realize that they are people just trying to get by."

Students begin to see that 'patients' can be 'clients'. Students can partner with their clients and community for learning and service.

"I know as a nurse I am going to have to work on trying to put myself in another's position before making snap judgments about them and their personal situations. I thought being a nurse was as simple as understanding anatomy and physiology. This whole human aspect is where the challenge will lie with me."

Laurie Glover, MN, APRN, FNP

MSU-Bozeman College of Nursing, Adjunct

Assistant Professor
COPYRIGHT 2005 Montana Nurses Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Student Corner
Author:Glover, Laurie
Publication:The Pulse
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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