Eight senior nursing students from the University of Arkansas (UA) Eleanor Mann School of Nursing have been getting to know the homeless people of Fayetteville through a 7-week clinical rotation with 7hills Homeless Center. Working with the homeless has taught them empathy and how to think beyond immediate treatment, an immensely valuable skill that they will carry with them into their graduation this Spring.
During their rotations, the students have learned that homeless people aren’t as unfriendly and scary as many people think. Homeless people come from all backgrounds and most aren’t homeless because of something they’ve done, but due to unforeseen bumps along the way. Gaining trust with their patients has taught them not to judge by first looks or impressions and educated them on many of the challenges that homeless people face. Dorian Nelson, a senior nursing student, tells News.UArk.edu:
“After you go to the emergency room, if your home is the wet, cold woods, it doesn’t matter that you had treatment. A lot of nursing is advocacy. Here, we work with case managers whose job it is to help the homeless in all aspects of their lives. They will leave here no better than when they came in if we can’t help them with resources.”
Registered nurse Janet Gardner established the clinical rotation program at the 7hills homeless enter in January 2016 and now places different groups of 8 students there two times per semester. Their clinical duties include taking blood pressure, checking blood sugar, treating wounds, and making calls on behalf of their patients who need further medical treatment. This has taught these senior nursing students how to be advocates for their patients who need help, especially those who need management of their chronic conditions.
Taking a broader mindset with them into their upcoming graduation ceremony, many of these students now plan to work in hospital emergency departments or critical care units where they can best serve some of the most vulnerable patients and populations.
To learn more about the University of Arkansas nursing program and 7hills Homeless Center, visit here.
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