Our Nurses of the Week are the undergraduate nursing students in the Illinois State University (ISU) Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) who are working their clinical hours in schools to help improve the lives of young people by inspiring healthy habits at an early age.

These clinical hours are being completed through MCN’s award winning pediatric and public health clinical experience called America’s Promise Schools Project. America’s Promise provides clinical experiences for 90 nursing seniors each fall, sending seven to eight students to each of the 23 sites in six schools districts across three counties in Central Illinois.

The community health initiative combines engagement and real-world training, allowing schools to receive help in teaching students how to live healthy lifestyles while nursing students gain clinical experience in a public health setting. The many projects that have been initiated across Central Illinois are focused around the core areas of oral health, obesity, and mental health. Past programs have included teaching mindfulness exercises to teach elementary students how to be kinder to each other and assisting rural high schools with their suicide prevention efforts.

MCN understands the importance of clinical hours for nursing students. Assistant Professor Carla Pohl, director of America’s Promise, tells News.IllinoisState.edu, “Not only are they getting the experience in the school, but they are seeing what community nursing looks like. The project helps the students learn what the reality is. It helps them learn what the community resources are.”

America’s Promise was introduced to local schools in 2011. Last year, the program received the Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), recognizing the outstanding work of AACN schools to re-envision traditional models for nursing education and lead programmatic change.

To learn more about MCN’s America’s Promise Schools Project to inspire healthy habits for children, visit here.

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