In order to measure the impact of a health education program for single mothers and their children living in a West Philadelphia shelter, Marilyn Stringer, WHNP-BC, PhD, RDMS, uses a simple gauge.
The women come, said Stringer, an associate professor in womens health nursing and a clinician educator at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Penns Health System. Theyre showing up with questions, and theyre engaged during the sessions. Those are the pieces we can measure.
The program began in 2008 thanks to Penn nursing doctoral student Ashley Darcy, who started the partnership with Jane Addams House as part of an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.Marilyn Stringer, WHNP-BC
Stringer, who served as Darcys faculty adviser during the fellowship, made sure the program continued after the yearlong fellowship by teaming with Philadelphia native Pamela Mack-Brooks RN, MSN, CRNP, nurse manager, labor and delivery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
[Darcy] transitioned us in and we went right from there, Mack-Brooks said. We just thought it was a great match.
The program initially focused on using education to fight high preterm birth rates in the area. Globally, said Stringer, preterm birth rates are at 9.6%. The rates are 12.8% in the U.S. and 14.8% in West Philadelphia.
In that [West Philadelphia] community, there are pockets that are worse than that, Stringer said. So thats why we care.
While meeting with residents every other week for one hour health education sessions, nurses discovered other needs. In addition to discussing preterm births including prevention, symptoms and stress reduction strategies RNs and nursing students who teach the sessions also cover topics such as STDs, cancer, nutrition and domestic violence.
Mack-Brooks and Stringer would like to see the program expand to other shelters. Doing so would involve more RNs, who have been regular participants.
It hasnt been that hard to recruit people to this project, Mack-Brooks said. We always tell [the nurses and nursing students] that theyre educators. They can really see the fruit of their labors.
Barry Bottino is a regional editor for Nursing Spectrum.