In the community: nursing
For the fifth time in four years, NNU’s senior nursing students in the Community Health course organized the New American Dental and Vision Screening, an event providing refugees with free examinations and glasses.
“This project accomplishes a lot,” said senior Ashlee Seeger. “It gives people access to trained health care professionals that can tell them if they need to be seen right away, where they can get inexpensive help, or how to keep their teeth clean. It also gives people the ability to see better; we had several pairs of reading glasses we handed out, but for others—people that needed distance or a stronger reading power than we had—we paid for them to go to America's Best.”
“These students learn to become leaders by organizing events that benefit the health of underserved populations; in that manner they are a light in the world.”This event was possible because of a professor and her desire to fill a need in her community. In 2013, Professor of Nursing Jane Weis became aware of the difficulties refugees have settling in the United States and was determined to find a way to help. “I went to a refugee coordinator meeting and asked the coordinators if there was a community health need the students could organize for refugees,” explained Weis. “At this meeting, the clinic supervisors mentioned one of the most important needs was for prescription glasses.”
After getting this direction, Weis recruited her students and they started making phone calls. A local optometrist volunteered to do the eye exams, the Lion’s Club provided the vision screening, local dental hygienists volunteered to do the dental screenings, St. Alphonsus Health System donated their space for the event, the Idaho Department of Health paid for interpreters, and community members donated money for prescription glasses.
The students didn’t just coordinate the event; that day they assisted the dental hygienists, performed vision screenings, provided education, and worked with the interpreters. “I really liked working on this project,” Ashlee said. “It showed me how much of an impact just a small group of students can make in the lives of other people. I also helped develop leadership and time management skills, which are so important to succeed in the working world.”
Over the last four years, Weis’ nursing class has organized five New American Vision and Dental Screenings that have served 35–75 persons each time. In total, they have served more than 300 persons and have provided over 120 pairs of prescription glasses and 100 pairs of reading glasses.
“Being involved in the community shows us what is going on in our community,” Ashlee commented, “which then shows us how we can help other people.”
Weis added, “As a Christian university, NNU seeks to transform the students by forming nurses who serve the community. These students learn to become leaders by organizing events that benefit the health of underserved populations; in that manner they are a light in the world.”