Nursing students cap summer course with health fairs

July 30, 2014 / by / 0 Comment
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By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau

GCU nursing students Ryan Gardner and Karen Greenthal discussed diabetes with residents of a Scottsdale senior community during a health fair on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Kehn)

GCU nursing students Ryan Gardner and Karen Greenthal discussed diabetes with residents of a Scottsdale senior community during a health fair on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Kehn)

The generational divide was narrowed this summer at La Siena, a north Phoenix senior citizens community where Grand Canyon University nursing students visited residents weekly as part of the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions’ new Community Health Course.

There, in addition to teaching about the importance of hydration, brain games and increased flexibility to reduce the risk of falling, students learned a thing or two themselves. This became apparent to Frank White, La Siena’s executive director, in an exchange on Monday with a resident who’d just attended the students’ course-ending health fair.

“She told me she was teaching them how it is to grow old, and they said, ‘Oh, you’re not old,’” White said. “But that was an important thing for her to be able to do.”

The 25 students in Professor Karen Bond’s class organized and ran three health fairs Monday – at La Siena and at Maravilla Community and Vi at Silverstone, both in Scottsdale. The students tailored their presentations to the needs of each community, be it skin care in the sun, hypertension or memory issues, and the 120 residents in attendance, some of whom live independently and others requiring full-time skilled nursing care.

“None of these communities have had students there before, and the residents and staff loved having someone different to talk to and to interact with,” said Amy Baird, director of the BSN Program at GCU’s Scottsdale Healthcare Campus. “And for our students, instead of how to do meds or put in a catheter, it gave them chances to build trusting relationships with their patients.”

Student Tim Hayden and eight others staffed eight stations at the Maravilla health fair, where they checked blood pressure, did preliminary skin-cancer examinations and, to emphasize the importance of good nutrition, served healthy foods such as lettuce wraps stuffed with chicken quinoa salad and dark chocolate, which is rich in healthy cell protectors called flavonoids.

“The experience we all took away is that there is a health education deficit, no matter the socioeconomic status,” said Hayden, president of the Student Nurses Association at GCU’s Scottsdale site. “Some are willing to take charge of their health, while others still choose to ignore it. As future nurses, it is imperative that we continue to search for educational tools that will actively engage as many people as possible to better their health.”

An added benefit was that White’s staff, most of whom are not trained nurses, looked forward to and learned from the students’ visits, too.

“The main thing was the communications between the different parties,” he said. “You can talk all day long about wound care and catheters, but it’s how you connect, the caring, the patience, what we used to call bedside manner, that I really saw. The GCU students were terrific, very kind, compassionate, and our residents talked about the experience after the students left. They had such a good time.”

Contact Janie Magruder at 602.639.8018 or janie.magruder@gcu.edu.


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