Nursing Students Bring the Health Fair to St. Helena High School

By Brydon Marks on November 13, 2007

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On Friday, January 26, over 400 students at St. Helena High School went to see the nurse. The nurse that day, however, was actually more than 50 nursing students from Pacific Union College. Armed with a barrage of information on a variety of health topics, they had come to present a health fair, an informative and educational exhibition on the many facets of personal health.

The fair was organized by 28 baccalaureate nursing students as a project for the class "Health Education, Promotion, and Self Care" in PUC's nursing program. Sharon Millard, associate professor of nursing, says that it is an important assignment for the students, as well as a community service.

"We are trying to get our students into a mode of thinking that involves community service and working with community resources to educate the youth in our valley," she says.

The nurses were assisted by more than two dozen volunteer students studying at PUC for an associate's degree in nursing. They were joined by other Napa Valley health programs. Members of PUC's behavioral science, biology, and physical education departments also lent their expertise to the project. The fair incorporated information on stress management, personal safety, responsible self care, nutrition and exercise, and substance abuse.

In addition, a special health screening booth was made possible by St. Helena Hospital; HemoCue, Inc.; Wright Medical Services; Lifescan, Inc.; the PUC Biology Department; and other organizations who donated or loaned medical equipment and supplies. Staffed by the nursing students, this booth offered, with parents' permission, free testing of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, hemoglobin, and instruction in self-examination for breast and testicular cancer.

Millard points out the value of this service to the community. "Our youth are at high risk," she says, "so the more we can deliver information to them in a novel way - and the health fair is a novel way - the more they will listen, and the safer they will be." She also points out that, because of their young age, the nursing students are able to communicate with the high-schoolers and establish a relationship that is unavailable to many older people, making their message of health and safety more potent.

"I'm learning a lot of information that will help me in the future," says freshman Nayeli Corro, sporting a bandaged finger after having her blood glucose level checked. "It's great to have something like this because as teenagers, when it comes to our health, we don't think of ourselves in any kind of danger. Here we learn things about ourselves that we didn't know before."

After five years of producing health fairs in Napa Valley high-schools, Millard has received a collection of notes from students expressing their appreciation. She says, "It's meaningful to them as well as to us." For the nurses and nursing students involved, this is the entire purpose of the day. For over 50 volunteers, this is their only payment. Millard points out that what students respect most is that, "We care enough to do something like this for them."

For more information on PUC's health fairs or nursing degrees, please call the nursing department at 707-965-7262.

Prizes and food for the fair were generously donated by the following: Napa Valley Roasting Company, A&W Restaurant, Guigni Grocery, Cinedome, The Wherehouse, Napa Beauty Supply, Trips and Travel, Lunds Florist, Healthquest, Nature Select Foods, Peter's Video, Garden Carrot Natural Foods, Safeway, PUC Admissions Dept., PUC Bookstore, PUC Hardware and Market, and Karen Lewis.