Nursing Students Reach Out to Disabled Adults With Wellness Program

April 18, 2012 / by / 0 Comment

By Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau

For the nursing students in GCU’s community health class, stepping out of the classroom to practice with real people is part of their course.

They visit jails. They help out at homeless shelters and AIDS clinics.

Erma Reyes, 46, receives a sticker from GCU nursing student Katy Reed after completing a station on dental health Wednesday at the Arizona Recreation Center for the Handicapped.

But those trips, like leading wellness sessions Wednesday at the Arizona Recreation Center for the Handicapped, go beyond coursework. They teach the group of seniors how to connect with individuals and provide more compassionate health care later in their careers.

GCU seniors in the nursing program’s community health course provided basic information to ARCH day-program adults about dental hygiene, nutrition, exercise and protecting themselves from the brutal Arizona sun.

“It’s cool because you get to see the well side of people,” said Jamie Fryer, a senior who helped lead a session on dental hygiene Wednesday at ARCH.

“You go to some of these clinicals and work with people who are sick,” Fryer said. “But these guys are healthy. We’re just teaching them how to be healthier.”

Sarah Fladager, a GCU senior nursing student, gets ARCH program member Jimmy Cherry, 45, moving with physical fitness tips.

The community health class, taught by Lisa Jaurigue, a GCU assistant nursing professor, focuses on health-care trends in populations that are at-risk or lower-income groups where social services are limited by budget cuts.

Jaurigue said the nursing program hoped do a similar wellness day every spring and hold health screenings each fall. The health screenings include basic health checkups such as eye tests, glucose levels and checking for head lice.

“Just in interacting with the students, you see the familiarity in their faces,” Jaurigue said about the reaction by ARCH special-needs adults.

“They recognize us in our purple,” she said. “I sense their appreciation of that relationship and see us building on that trust.”

ARCH staff said they felt day-program adults responded well to interacting with the GCU students.

“I think (the students are) able to put it on a level that’s understandable, without making it too childlike,” said Grace Turner, supervisor of adult services at ARCH. 

“A lot of people make the mistake of doing that, forgetting that these are adults,” Turner said.

Contact Michael Ferraresi at 639.7030 or [email protected].

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