Vanessa H., Nursing

Student Status: Senior
Course: NURS 4510 Caring for Families and Communities
Category: Professional
Opportunity: Nursing Clinic for Homeless Population

“This course is vital to being a well-rounded nurse. You need to work on not just studying for boards, but also be person who can communicate with clients.”

Q: Tell us about the Community Course.

A: Nursing courses are unique in that we don’t just sit in class and listen to lectures. We have that clinical piece and the community class was even more unique in that we are not just going to the hospitals. We went and did clinicals in the community. Even with my experience as an LPN, I didn’t have much experience with that and through this class I was able to see what those types of nurses do. Some of us went to homeless shelters while others went to other places in the community. I, myself, went to a place downtown. It wasn’t a homeless shelter, but it provided resources for homeless people.

There were 10 of us in my group. We went about once a week and we were there for about 6 hours. We would hold clinics for the homeless. The homeless services organization was close to campus so at the beginning of the day we would just do a 10-15 minute walk-around and pass out flyers to the homeless. We’d tell them Georgia State students are here today between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and if you want to, come on down to our clinic. The homeless population in the area got to know us and they would show up by the droves.

Q: What was your final product for the course?

A: At the end of the course, we had to do the community project and we chose to do mental health education for the staff at the center we were at. We did a power point presentation and we educated them on different mental health issues – four main ones. We made a cool video in the beginning with pictures and statistics and then we did powerpoint on schizophrenia, PTSD, bipolar and depression. We did it at the center for staff that worked there and volunteers and sent a flyer to staff and volunteers calling it a “Lunch and Learn” and we provided lunch. The faculty coordinator came as well. In addition, we did a poster presentation at the health fair that focused on our mental health community project.

Q: Do you have a favorite story or memory?

A: There was a day when we decided to pitch in. That particular agency, they would have different volunteers come in and do breakfast, usually pancake breakfasts, or would do dinner on certain nights — open their doors and people would come in to have something to eat. They completely relied on donations and volunteers to do this. So one day before our clinic set up, the 10 of us and our instructor decided to pitch in our own money and do a breakfast. They always had pancakes so we decided to do eggs and biscuits for them. Change it up. We had cheese eggs and biscuits with jelly, and it was a nice change. They were so happy. We made coffee for them. It was so nice to get in there and do something for them.

Q: What do you see as the benefits of being involved in this course?

A: Getting out of the classroom and doing something hands on is a huge benefit because not everyone learns through pen and paper only. There are so many people who learn by doing and for me that is huge when you are teaching someone. Sometimes they just need to get their hands on it and they just need to see it. Doing something like that, even if it isn’t nursing per se. Any time you can take someone out of the classroom and take them to it and say this is what we mean and this is what we’re talking about and get your hands in it and really do it, I think that is your golden ticket. Then the student can really actualize it and really understand it fully. Then you really can put the pieces all together. I think there are probably less than 50% of the people who get it just by looking at the board or the textbook. I think there are so many people who struggle with that and study and study but still don’t completely understand. But when they see it and can put their hands on it, they really have it after that.