After a term of working with community agencies, 70 students at the University of Washington School of Nursing in Seattle had their chance to show assistant professor Betty Bekemeier, RN, PhD, MPH, faculty, staff and guests what they had accomplished. The occasion was a Dec. 7 open house and symposium given by BSN and accelerated BSN students in the Promoting Community and Public Health class.
“Everybody, students and faculty alike, seems to really enjoy this end-of-the-quarter poster symposium,” Bekemeier said. “It’s a time when we can all see what each other has done over the quarter and what our course content really looks like when applied to practice.”
Students filled the room with posters and flyers, delivered their assessments of project outcomes and shared how they were able to put their nursing education into practice. All of the projects investigated public health concerns, such as obesity and healthy eating, disease prevention and elder care, promoting healthy pregnancies in low-income women and cultural competency in healthcare.Nursing students at the symposium include, from left, Kristin Katz and Maria Lysen.
The class was split into 10 groups, each led by a clinical instructor and assigned to work with a community agency. The students made weekly visits to agencies such as Full-Life Care, Work-it-Out School and local Native American tribes.
“This was a unique experience in cultural immersion,” said Katie Stiver, who worked on a project with a Native American tribe to improve health-seeking behaviors. She was on a team of five students who traveled to the Peninsula once a week. Their project focused on assisting with vision, height and weight screenings, andon developing a hand-washing presentation with interactive components. The group concluded that their screenings with children and work with the elderly were important to improving the overall health of the tribe.
BSN students Jo Saltmarsh and Janet Bowen participated in a campaign to advocate for Washington’s Maternity Support Services, a state program that provides prenatal care and support to Medicaid-eligible women. The pair traveled to the state capitol building in Olympia to advocate for retaining the program, which is in danger of elimination due to state budget cuts. As part of their campaign, the team created the “onesie” slogan, advocating for each baby to be born big enough to fit into a newborn onesie.Nursing student Janet Bowen attends the symposium.
“The program can help save a great deal of money in the long run,” Saltmarsh said. “Investing in healthy babies now saves $5.3 million in hospital costs later on.”
Each student team spent hours engaging with community agencies to improve overall health outcomes for clientele.
“I’m always thrilled by the degree to which students are inspired by what they experience, by the complex community challenges they encounter, and by what they have learned in the agencies and communities they have worked with,” said Bekemeier. “Their posters, stories and excitement say so much.”
Learn more about the school: www.nursing.uw.edu.