Radford nursing students organize popular New River Valley health fair
On Feb. 27, Radford’s aspiring health care professionals went on the road to practice their vital skills.
RU nursing students from Emeritus Nursing Professor Maggie Bassett's Community Health class stepped into their roles as educators and organizers of the fifth annual New River Valley Health and Wellness Fair 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 included almost 40 community organizations from the New River Valley. During the four-hour fair, the students and their professional counterparts performed various screenings and assessments while sharing the latest information about dental, hearing and vision health, nutrition, drugs and emergency preparedness with almost 200 visitors over the age of 50.
"We must facilitate communication and education about these important topics," said Meghan McFee, a senior nursing major from Christiansburg and a level-four nursing student. "An event like this helps prevent disease with different screenings for potential problems and presents important education opportunities."
Bassett said the organizational and communication efforts are of great value to the future health care providers who participated, as well as to the clients.
“They have a unique chance to get outside the hospital silo,” Bassett said. “They see what the community offers its citizens, clients and caregivers and figure out how best they can contribute to solving their patients’ challenges.”
McFee talked about the important role as an educator in the nurse's job description. "Studies have found that prevention will always be the most effective treatment, especially with chronic diseases. The exhibitors today are offering easy, everyday activities that promote health and increase wellness."
An eight-person committee organized the fair with assistance from the campus chapter of the Student Nursing Organization.
"The willingness of the community to invest their time and donate in support of the Fair has been a pleasant surprise," McFee said. "Nobody should feel alone as the NRV, unlike many neighboring rural areas, offers a lot of different kinds of support."
"I think we learned today that folks know what they need to do, and we tried to help provide additional nutritional structure that will improve their quality of life," said Tony Dellorso, a junior dietetics major from Yorktown, who was one of a dozen members of the RU Dietetics Association who chatted up visitors about good eating habits, smart phone apps on nutrition, individual energy needs and grocery shopping tips.
Representing the second-year class of DPT students were Christine Evans, Shana Harmon and Jessica Ostrowski. They were focused on preventing falls among the older population and sharing prevention information and tips.
"Today was 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 Evans, who said more than 30 clients took their screening protocols.