Radford University nurses embrace health education efforts
Central to the role of nurses, as health care providers, is patient education.
Radford University nursing students from Nursing Instructor Louise Coats' community health class stepped into their role as health educators by organizing the seventh annual New River Valley Health and Wellness Fair on Feb. 24 at the Christiansburg Recreation Center.
The fair engaged more than 40 community health organizations from the New River Valley and attracted more than 150 visitors over the age of 50. During the four-hour event, various screenings and assessments were performed by the students and their professional counterparts and information about dental, hearing and vision health, nutrition, drugs and emergency preparedness was shared.
“We had to work together and lean on each other to organize and promote today’s event. Like the rest of our practice, it is a ‘we’ thing, not an ‘I’ thing," said Jenna Towes, a senior nursing student from Cana, Virginia, and a member of the event’s organizing team.
Coats framed the nurses’ broad role and potential for positive impact.
“Nurses are resource guides, educators, moral support, role models and case coordinators. Nurses educate and inspire. The nurse in the hospital is the tip of the iceberg,” Coats said. “The base is the many ways nurses engage to affect the health of the individuals who make up our communities. Today’s event is just one way for nurses to provide access to valuable information and helpful resources.”
Suvanna Walters, a senior from Newport News, Virginia, was part of a team from Professor of Nursing Sarah Gilbert’s Gerontology class, that talked to fair visitors about activities for healthy living.
“We’re talking today to those about whom we are learning in class,” Walters said. “We are expanding our own experience about the challenges they face and resources available. I like to think we are helping and encouraging them, too.”
The fair is one of several projects by the students in the community health class, such as educational outreach efforts to regional schools and libraries about dental health, cardiac health, hypertension and smoking cessation.
A variety of organizations and businesses helped the organizing team. Food Lion, Kroger and Walmart were among several businesses that donated healthy items for door prize baskets that were awarded to fair visitors. The Radford Student Nursing Organization and the Epsilon Psi chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing also contributed to the effort.
“We really appreciate all of the enthusiastic support and investments in the health of our community and our work to sustain it,” said Olivia Scalf, a senior nursing student from Rocky Mount, Virginia.