As health and wellness educators, Fair lets RU nurses, dietitians and DPT students step up

A pair of RU Nursing students consult with a Health Fair visitor.

Two RU nursing students chat with a visitor to the recent 3rd annual New River Valley Health and Wellness Fair, organized by the School of Nursing's Community Health Class.

Central to the role of nurses as a health care provider is patient education.  RU nursing students from Emeritus Nursing Professor Maggie Bassett's Community Health class stepped into their role as educators at the third annual New River Valley Health and Wellness Fair on Feb. 27 at the Christiansburg Recreation Center.

The nursing students were joined by second-year doctorate of physical therapy (DPT) candidates and students from the Nutrition and Dietetics program to practice skills, present current health information and do research at the event which attracted more than 30 community health organizations from the New River Valley. During the four-hour fair, various screenings and assessments were performed by the students and professional counterparts and information about dental,  hearing and vision health, nutrition, drugs and emergency preparedness was shared with more than 100 visitors over the age of 50.

"We are happy to step up like this," said Brooke Barnette, a level-four nursing student from Radford, who was part of the eight-person team who organized the event. "As a nurse, our job doesn't stop when we leave the hospital. It is easier to help stop the heart attacks, strokes and diabetes than treat them."

Allyson Scruggs, another member of the event organizing team and level-four nursing student, talked about the importance of the role of educator in the nurse's job description. "Studies have found that prevention will always be the most effective treatment, especially with chronic diseases. We are offering easy, everyday activities that promote health and increase wellness."

"Our goal is to help people eat healthy, live longer, enjoy a better life and have fewer doctor visits," said Sarah Gilbert, a dietetics major from Purcellville, Va., who was one of a dozen members of the RU Dietetics Association who chatted up visitors about good eating habits. "A balanced diet with everything in moderation is what we recommend . . . a little bit of everything and a piece of fruit with every meal."

RU DPT student queries a visitor for class research project.

Maryalicia Kohut, a second-year DPT candidate, works with a Health and Wellness Fair visitor to complete a survey about the risk of falling.

The entire second-year class of DPT students was on-hand for the fair. They were focused on preventing falls among the older population and sharing pertinent information and tips. Data collection for a study on individual objective and subjective assessments about the risk of falls was another goal of their participation.

"Today is a good opportunity for us to get out ahead and help folks become aware of the risks they face in their daily lives as they get older," said DPT candidate Tyler Midkiff.

Bassett, whose students did six other health education outreach efforts to regional schools this semester as part of the community health class, was pleased with the fair's growth. "This is three times the size of previous fairs and is so much more comprehensive. The team has done of phenomenal job of organizing it."   

Mar 4, 2014