USC Aiken Nursing Students Provide Free Health Screenings

Staff Report From Aiken CEO

Monday, March 25th, 2019

The University of South Carolina Aiken School of Nursing has partnered with Christ Central to provide free health screenings.

"Christ Central is all about enriching our community, and we are honored to play a part in building a bridge of relationship between USCA and those recipients in need that come through the door at Christ Central," said Judy Floyd, director of Christ Central Aiken and Graniteville.

In both South Carolina and Georgia, the nursing students conduct height, weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, and vision screenings. With clients' permission at the Easter Seals in Augusta, Ga., and the S.C. Vocation Rehabilitation Center in Aiken, S.C., the nursing students also collect an in-depth health history.

"This activity provides the community with a resource that they may not have otherwise," said nursing professor, Ashley Brittain.

If concerns are identified through the history and physical, the students are prepared to make referrals to healthcare providers or agencies where they can seek further treatment or assistance.

At each site, students routinely identify clients who have high blood pressures or high glucose levels that have previously not been diagnosed or treated. They ensure that once diagnosed these clients receive treatment.

"For many of these clients we may be the first and only health care providers that these clients see," said Robyn Havens, a professor in the USC Aiken School of Nursing.

The students also educate the clients on a number of health promotion topics.

"This is an excellent service-learning opportunity that is well received by all of our locations. This clinical opportunity is well received by students because they have the autonomy to care for a client and provide resources the clients might not otherwise have," Brittain said.

She added that the nursing students educate or make referrals based on what they identify as real concerns for the individuals they see.

"This is different than other nursing clinicals because they are not simply fulfilling doctor's orders at the bedside," Brittain added.

"They are identifying and coordinating care for an individual independently."

USC Aiken professors supervise the process, but they encourage the students to be independent thinkers and healthcare practitioners.

Students say they are gaining invaluable real-world experience.

Bridget Sampson, Lancaster, S.C.

"Working at Christ Central helped to push me out of my comfort zone when it comes to healthcare settings. Usually we are given a single client at a hospital and we have specific physician orders we need to follow. At Christ Central, we were given more autonomy and allowed to spend more time with our clients without the constant worry that we were completing all of the tasks ordered. We were able to be more personable with the clients and see how the community affects their daily lives.

"Allowing us this opportunity really helps us to grasp how the real world functions outside of the nursing program. We are able to see just how important the community is to the care of our clients and ourselves. By participating at Christ Central, I was able to understand the people I will be caring for better and felt included with my fellow community members.

"At USC Aiken, the importance of thorough and detailed health assessments has been stressed since day one of nursing school. For this clinical experience specifically, this was one of the most important tasks we were given to perform. Prior to our clinical experiences, groups were formed to go out into the community to find resources we could provide for our clients. We presented the information from each location to our fellow classmates and encouraged them to use the information to help our clients receive the best help possible.

"Working in this setting was completely different from working within the hospital setting. In the hospital we have all of the technology that you can think of at our fingertips. In the community, we have limited supplies, and everything is in the moment. You have to adapt to what is available for the best care of your clients. I feel this is an important thing to learn prior to graduation so that when placed in positions like this in the future we are able to adapt, overcome, and achieve the best outcomes for our clients.

"I thoroughly enjoyed being at Christ Central for the three weeks we were given. The founders and volunteers are some of the sweetest people I have ever met. I also enjoyed helping as many clients as I could and just getting to know many of the community members in Aiken. It was definitely an experience worth remembering."

Cedric Scott, Augusta, Ga.

"It is rewarding to be in a position to contribute not only to the healthcare, but the overall well-being of the population served here. I was able to connect with people whom I probably never would have if it were not for Christ Central. This experience has shown me to use my position in society as one of service to all people.

"It is important to me because the underprivileged segment of our community is often overlooked. Nurses have a big impact on the lives of people with whom we interact. Without this experience, we would not have had the opportunity to interact with the under-served residents of Aiken County

"USC Aiken has amazing professors and clinical instructors who have nurtured my nursing and communication skills to a professional standard that I am proud to display. Not only were we taught these skills in class, but these leadership skills are demonstrated by our professors daily.

"This experience reinforces the importance of looking at the whole picture of someone's life and teaches how the environment shapes one's decisions and health. It also demonstrates the importance of collaboration from different forces in the community to improve conditions of those who need it.

"I would like to thank both the university and Christ Central for opening their doors to both us and the community. The staff at Christ Central was very welcoming and supportive of our career choice."

Ebony E. Adiotomre, Aiken, S.C.

"Working with the clients at Christ Central really helped to emphasize the importance of the role that nurses play in healthcare. I was able to see firsthand how the information we share with our clients can impact their lives and the community. I feel like I was able to take on a larger role while working at Christ Central and make a difference.

"I think that it's important to provide future nurses with different experiences so that they will be well rounded better able to provide better care to their clients.

"Visiting Christ Central made me more aware of the need for nurses and other health care professionals to be out in the community providing services and education for clients. It has also made me want to make sure that I volunteer at more places like Christ Central when I graduate. I would still like to work full time in a hospital, but I would also like to be able to volunteer and work at health fairs and other events that are taking place in the community."