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Nursing students immerse themselves in hands-on caring

This summer, students of Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing's accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN) program are embarking on a two-week immersion experience at five sites around the world—West Virginia, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic.

From May 30-June 12, ABSN students will work with local health care providers and community partners to provide health care, community assessments, program evaluations and a sustainability project in each location.

West Virginia

For the second time, nursing students and faculty will travel to West Virginia to partner with Cabin Creek Health System. Students will evaluate how well the health system's Medicaid disabled population's mental health needs are being met. They will see patients in clinics and in their homes, and will ask them about their mental health needs and issues that drive patients to use other sources of care such as emergency departments and urgent care centers.


In the Bahamas, nursing students will be stationed on the small island of Eleuthera to further develop partnerships with community organizations, educational institutions and the Bahamian Ministry of Health. The students will evaluate what Bahamian communities view as priorities for their health and then assessing what strengths and areas of growth exist. Emory nurses will work with local nurses to provide primary care to clinic patients and conduct health education seminars for primary and secondary school students.

Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, Emory will partner with two programs in Hospital San Vincente de Paul's in San Francisco de Macoris. Students will evaluate the volunteer doula program and update the data collection tool of the Kangaroo Mother Care project, a method of caring for premature infants that involves constant skin- to-skin contact in place of an incubator. Additionally, students will visit hospitals at the provincial periphery and observe the workings of the referral system within the public health infrastructure.

Virgin Islands

In the Virgin Islands, students will participate in multiple health fairs to screen and teach residents how to take charge of their own health. Students will work at the Federally Qualified Health Center to develop a diabetes and hypertension registry in order to better analyze the data from the center’s 6,000 annual visits.  Students also will observe process flows regarding patient and nursing care, shadow physicians, and evaluate staff quality and efficiency.

Immersion experiences sharpen nursing skills, motivation

Teaching students more than just clinical care, service learning trips offer nursing students the opportunity to get inside unfamiliar cultures while facing real-world health care challenges such as working with interpreters and facing medical supply shortages.

"We often hear that opportunities like this take both our students and faculty back to the start of why they wanted to become nurses," says Lisa Muirhead, clinical assistant professor and service learning academic coordinator. "They not only enhance their clinical capabilities, but they also sharpen their caring skills, which are the heart our field."

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