Squirmy kindergartners and healthy first graders aren’t typical patients for nursing students used to interacting with sick or injured people in hospital settings. However, on a series of schooldays in October, bachelor of nursing students taking a Community Health course visited a series of private elementary schools to screen the hearing and vision of each student.
The Community Health course is part of PUC’s bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) curriculum, and the service-learning opportunity at the local schools gave students a chance to be hands-on and apply what they learned in the college classroom to the elementary classroom. The BSN students conducted screenings at Pacific Union College Elementary in Angwin on October 14, Napa Christian Campus of Education in Napa on October 15, and Foothills Adventist Elementary School in St. Helena on October 21.
“Learning it in the classroom is far different from actually doing it with a kindergartener,” shares Susan Allen, D.N.P. Allen, professor for the Community Health class and a former school nurse, saw the screening as a great opportunity for both college and elementary students. Unlike public schools, private schools like these don’t have free screenings in certain grades. Catching hearing and vision problems early can ensure that students are able to fully take advantage of learning.
According to BSN student Terrance Murao, the main goal of the screening was prevention. “In order to prevent something, we have to catch something,” he explained while helping manage the screening at Foothills Adventist Elementary. “We want to help the community as a whole.”
Some children were nervous about the screening, but the nurses did their best to make them as comfortable as possible. If a student failed the exam or showed any issues that needed to be looked into further, the nurses would prepare a referral notice for teachers and parents.
At Foothills, Daisy Majera and a classmate were screening each child’s vision. “We look for any difficulties, like squinting, turning their head, or unable to point in the right direction,” she explained. Majera was excited to promote health while practicing skills such as critical thinking, communication with patients, and working with different age groups. “I want to be able to have an impact on my community,” enthused Majera. “I’m from a Hispanic background, and I know in my community there are a lot of diseases like diabetes and hypertension. I want to be able to reach out to my community.”
It’s just those types of connections that the Community Health course hopes to inspire. Allen plans to continue integrating the screenings into the class each year. “It’s important for our schools to have services that public schools have,” says Allen. “This is part of our class, so it’s a win-win.”