Medicine Hat College nursing students are making an impact in the community long before they start their careers. An important aspect of the nursing program, offered at MHC in collaboration with the University of Calgary, is the community clinic groups. Students are assigned a population and tasked with assessing the needs of their group, planning an intervention, and evaluating its success.
One example is the hot supper and social event held last November for the homeless population at the Salvation Army. Despite the great strides made to address the issue of homelessness in the city, there is a still a real need for support, says nursing instructor Una Weich.
Students went out on the streets and visited the Champion Centre, a local charitable organization that works with the homeless, to better understand the challenges and needs of this group of people. Through this process, they discovered the isolation felt by this population and their desire for social engagement.
Following the hot supper program prepared by the Salvation Army, the students organized a social event where people could play games, win door prizes, and visit in a warm and safe environment. They also prepared care packages with a few fun activities and games to address the issue of socialization.
Submitted photo: Nursing students enjoy games night following the Salvation Army's hot supper program.
"It’s all them and their ideas. The students come up with the plan and work to implement it with feedback from the population,” says Weich. “Every year is different. They meet the needs that are present at the time."
Another group was assigned to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada and was tasked with implementing the Go Girls! Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds program at Ross Glen Elementary School.
With an understanding of the emotional, social and cultural issues facing teens today, the nursing students met with a group of 13-year-old girls for two hours once a week for seven weeks and provided information and support to help them make informed choices about healthy, active living. The Go Girls! program was extremely well-received by both the students and school administrators.
“In the last class, the children were asking when the nursing students could come back for a visit. One young girl said these were the best weeks of her life which brought tears to our eyes,” says Anna Schottner, the instructor leading the group.
As a result of the program’s success, the school has asked for the nursing students to return and recommends expanding Go Girls! to other elementary schools in the future.
At St. Joseph’s Home, a local senior’s residence and hospice care facility, eight second year nursing students spent the fall term with independent living residents and offered opportunities to enhance socialization. Each of the eight nursing students brought their unique talents and interests forward and coordinated eight separate activities, including crafts and gardening projects, a sing-a-long, Halloween party, ballroom dancing, pet therapy, aromatherapy, and a visit from St. Patrick’s Preschool.
Submitted photo: Ballroom dancing with residents of St. Joseph's Home.
“The students set out with a goal to bring more sunshine into the building and they succeeded,” says nursing instructor Janelle Moch.
“Their efforts were much appreciated by the residents and staff at St. Joseph’s and we received amazing feedback regarding how refreshing their youthful energy was and how much their creativity was enjoyed. Not only did the students learn about the nursing process, the importance of health promotion, and community nursing, they also gained wisdom from the seniors and built professional, therapeutic relationships with this population.”
MHC nursing students were also busy working with other populations throughout the fall semester at Elm Street School, St. Louis School, Parkinson Alberta (Medicine Hat Region), and Saamis Immigration.
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