As students looked for cross walks, handicap accessible sidewalks and the feasibility of walking to the grocery store, they were gaining a deeper understanding of public health in a way they couldn’t in the classroom.
The students have been working with Morrison County public health officials this semester to study and help improve public health in the county.
They worked with the county to study and help county workers improve walkability, public health recommendations and maternal child health education. The students traveled to Morrison County each week to work with staff and research.
Counties often have a difficult time filling public health nurse positions and partnerships like this give students an introduction to public health nursing, Huard said.
“There is nothing more engaging than doing real-life public health work,” he said. “It is sometimes challenging for students to recognize the impact they are having on a person’s health, especially when we look at the health of a population, but when these clinical experiences come to an end, and you listen to students present their work to county officials, you realize so much has been learned and that there is a deep understanding. It makes me so very proud of each and every one of them.”
They credited the Little Falls for its bike lanes, parks, ample parking and low income and senior housing options close to community resources.
Katelyn McPhee was among a group of four students who worked with the Little Falls Public Health Department to assess intact calls.
The department found that employees were feeling like they didn’t have enough resources to adequately answer the questions they were getting, and it wanted to develop a resource guide public health nurses and social workers can pull up when answering calls from the public.
McPhee and the others worked on a first step toward that goal — researching what knowledge gaps exist among callers. They developed a Likert Scale survey to assess what areas need improvement and determined that since many of the workers don’t live in the county, they are not aware of all the available resources, McPhee said.
Their research results will be used by nursing students in future semesters to develop the resource guide.
It was interesting to work with both nurses and social workers and see how they collaborate, Horn said.
Tarynn Kasper, Anna Schmitt, Rebecca Patton and Courtney Brittain teamed up to work with the county to help make recommendations for developing an evidence-based curriculum for maternal child health that public health nurses can use to provide consistent information.
They researched costs, availability, methods for educating clients and recommended online databases with course materials and a model the county can use for creating a uniform curriculum.
The nursing department also works with Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, Meeker and Wright counties on other health-related projects and works on campus to help improve experiences for their fellow students.
This semester clinical students worked on campus to study active-shooter procedure awareness to determine how prepared St. Cloud State University students and employees are in the event of an emergency on campus.