Student Reflection on Service Learning

I was finally approved to start volunteering at the Clinic a few months back! It has been a wonderful experience thus far. I say “thus far” because I have plans to continue volunteering at the clinic even though our Service Learning class has come to an end.
The Clinic is a place where extremely low income families without insurance can come receive acute/non-emergent healthcare treatment. We see a variety of conditions but it seems like the majority are people who have a cold/sore throat/congestion, stomach pain, possible UTI’s, bug bites etc…
We have a variety of physicians who volunteer their time to see these patients – pediatricians, ENTs, urologist, general practitioners, OB’s, interns, and even a pharmacist.
The role of the nurse at the clinic is to “triage” patients to the various doctors, perform requested labs such as H&H, blood sugars, urine samples, strep tests, and also to assist in other procedures such as a surgical procedure to remove glass embedded in a hand.
While volunteering I noticed that some of the other volunteer’s might benefit from learning more about aseptic technique and surgical procedures.  Last week we had some time before the doctor’s arrived for the evening, to teach them about the sterile field, how to open supplies with sterile technique, how to prep the surgical sight and how to clean the instruments properly afterwards.  It was a great teaching/learning experience for all of us! There ended up being 2 real surgical procedures performed at the clinic that night which allowed for more practice and using the “teach back” method.
I have discovered there is great reward in serving others and giving of my time, even just 4 hours a week! The biggest barrier prior to this service learning course was just thinking that I don’t have any time to volunteer in the community.  Working full-time and being in school full-time as well as being a mother to three kids and a wife, my time is very limited.  I have always planned on continuing volunteering at the clinic but maybe cutting back to one night a month while I am in Summer semester.  Lately I have been thinking it might be an even better idea for me to search out volunteer opportunities for the family and I to do TOGETHER, since our time together is limited anyway.  And that will teach my children the importance of volunteering and providing service to others in our community.  I feel it’s a valuable lesson for them to learn while they are still young!
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Student Reflection on Service Learning Project

I have learned a lot in doing this service project and have been grateful for the opportunity. It obviously would be better to serve without having a project behind it, but I feel this project has only instilled more of a desire to want to serve more. Serving this semester has really helped me to see how much of an influence we have as nurses on our communities. I currently work in a hospital setting so at times I go to work and come home and that is the extent of my nursing. This project really showed me how deep my nursing career can go, and how much our influence can be used in a variety of settings. I hope that I can take this idea with me for the rest of my career and realize that my career can become a lifestyle and has the opportunity to affect so many people for good. I remember getting into nursing and one of the things I loved was the unique knowledge and skill set you develop as a nurse, this was one of the appealing aspects of nursing to me. I should not take for granted the skills that I have acquired and should always strive to share them with others in the community as they may be needed.

I hope that people I taught about eating healthy and making healthy choices will be able to get ideas and take them to their own homes. My idea to help people see that there are healthier choices out there and can be on a similar budget that they are currently on. I created a pamphlet that went through common foods we eat and healthier alternatives to that food. Most the time it is an option that is cheaper or within the same price range. This helps people to see that there are other options out there for them and that they can still enjoy foods they love but in a healthier form. The idea for my teaching stems from the idea that we do not eat as many healthy item foods because they cost more. So during the time at the food bank I began to notice the amount of single mothers with overweight children. So I began to direct my idea of teaching towards them to be able to eat healthy on a budget. I felt like my teaching went well and that it was a success, the situation did not allow for a lot of feedback from the people coming for food, but from those I was able to speak with they stated they enjoyed the input and would be able to apply it in their own home. I gave them some examples of recipes they could use at home as well as some government issued resources they could find online. I would change a few things I did which would be to place the information in the peoples hands quicker as well as their evaluation to help get better feedback. I loved doing this project and a love for service is something that I continually take away from this project.

- Written by Jared Petersen

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Student Reflection on Volunteering with Head Start

My service learning experience at Head Start was an incredibly rewarding one.  I had the opportunity to assist in one of their preschool classrooms working with children between the ages of three and five. Head Start is a great organization and the teachers I had the opportunity to work with were fantastic.  The teachers’ dedication and commitment to the children’s education and well-being was inspiring.  They found ways to incorporate teaching into all aspects of the day in a natural way and on many occasions I heard children proclaim how much they liked coming to school.  The teachers were very knowledgeable, not only about early education, but also about community resources.  On each occasion I was there I saw Head Start employees connecting family members with needed community resources.

In my time in the classroom I supported the teachers with the children’s daily routines, as well as with whatever activities were scheduled for the day.  Many of these activities were very similar to what you would see in a typical preschool classroom.  However, many of the children had learned English as a second language, there were children with developmental delays and/or learning disabilities, as well as children with behavioral issues that required accommodations.  Much time was devoted to helping students learn the basics, so they would be prepared once it was time to enter kindergarten.

My health promotion topic was a nutrition project that I disseminated on one day, several times to groups of a few students at a time.  Hand washing was incorporated into this project, prior to assisting the children with the preparation of a healthy recipe.  I felt this project went very well, the children seemed to enjoy themselves and some even talked about what we had done in days to come.  This was a valuable teaching experience, in that allowed me to have the chance to educate children of a young age which is something I haven’t had the opportunity to do in the past.

Looking back I don’t feel that I left enough behind.  While I know that it was helpful for the teachers and beneficial to the students to have me there assisting, it just seems as there is never enough time and always more that can be done.  I have always had an interest in getting involved in volunteering on a regular basis, and participate in different one time volunteering projects throughout the year, this experience really reinforced that I want to be giving back to the community more.  As I’m sure many students can relate to, it can be hectic trying to fit everything in to an already busy schedule.  However, I would highly recommend the inclusion of service learning classes into a student’s schedule if this is something they are interested in.  There are so many different organizations and opportunities to find something that is the perfect fit for an individual’s interests and talents.  We are lucky as Westminster students to be at a college that places such an importance on being part of the community and giving back.

- Written by Brittany Hill

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Student Reflection on Service Learning Project

After going though canvas just making sure that all of the final things were done for this semester, I was reading about the blog that was due for this week and realized that this is “a day late and a dollar short.”  SO I apologize for that and hope that this still finds you all in good spirits!!

This semester has been a wild ride for me.  This service learning project got off to a rough start but I was able to finish it with an amazing group of people who have done an amazing job at making sure that people in the community have something to look forward too.  The message that I will take forward from this experience is the importance of learning what it is to be “selfless.”  I think that this is a trait that many people forget we have!  We all fall into the position of being to busy to make time to help others.  I know that I am a full time nurse, full time student, full time mom, I am a laundry mat, personal cook, housekeeper, a tutor, and a taxi driver just to name a few.  And the thought that I had when I now had to be a volunteer was “I don’t know how I am going to fit ONE more thing in.”  But I knew that I had too, and really this was with my arm being twisted because the only reason that I was doing it was for the grade.  After seeing the hours and hours that are put in by others with just as busy schedules as mine I had to take a step back.  I realized that if they can make time to touch peoples lives then I could to do the same.  I wanted to be able to set aside “ME” and focus on people in need.  I was able to meet some amazing people who I would not have met any other way.

With this experience I hope that I was able to leave a little bit of knowledge behind that they didn’t have before.  Though the teaching/learning project I was able to present information through lecture, discussion and activities.  With this information I hope that at least one point was carried home and will help benefit them at some point in their lives.  If the only thing that I left behind was gained knowledge I fell that it was a job well done.

All of the people that were present for my health promotion topic were very receptive and I feel that they were very appreciative of the information that was presented.  Besides that anxiety that I had about the public speaking I fell that it was a great experience and I too learned from them too.

Looking back I am glad that I was given the opportunity to touch the lives of people in my community and able to help them understand more about the importance of being healthy, saying active and being social as they age.

Written by Brittany Bouchard

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Student Work #4: Volunteer Work at St. Andrews Food Pantry

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So I actually have had the opportunity to already begin my service at St. Andrews food pantry in South Jordan. I went at first just thinking I would check the place out and see how I liked it. As my service began I was nervous that I would not have much of an opportunity to teach people and apply some of the skills we have as nurses. As the day went on, I quickly remembered there is just something about giving service to others that opens your heart and allows you to learn. I quickly was able to engage with those I was helping and able to give them insight on things that could potentially help them. One of the things I loved the most was the variety of people we would see come in; from small families to the single elderly.

Service-Learning to me is what is in the title. Mahatma Gandhi said ” the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I have always loved this quote because it is so true. In helping others we are able to forget about ourselves and focus on someone else, in doing this we in a way re-evaluate who we are and begin to learn so much about ourselves. I know I recently read an article that talked about truly happy people, and one of the number one things that makes people happy is being able to serve others, it is not having the most expensive possessions, but simply giving of your time for someone else.

So in thinking about what I would like to learn from this, is one to learn to love to serve so it becomes a life long activity for me. The second; I would love this to be able to overflow into my nursing, that my compassion and willingness to help those around me will grow and make me a better nurse. The third thing I would like to take from this is to help me be more grateful for where I am in my life, I think happiness stems from the idea of being grateful and who doesn’t want to be more happy.

I think I pointed out what I feel is the important things from service based learning in that we can forget ourselves and focus on others which in turn allows us to have compassion for those around us. We then from this can experience gratitude for what we have and allows us to be a happier person. I have already enjoyed my time spent serving at St. Andrews and the opportunities I have had in teaching and learning. I look forward for the other chances I have to serve there and I know without a doubt there will be experiences that will impact me for the better.

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Student Work #3: Volunteer Work at Head Start

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I chose Head Start as my service learning organization.  Head Start is a national non-profit organization that provides early intervention services from infancy to children aged five in order to make available education and services that they would not be able to receive otherwise.  I was interested in working with Head Start because I enjoy spending time with children, but have not had the opportunity to work with them much in a professional situation.  Many years ago I worked for a non-profit, which in a different branch of the organization provided early intervention services to children with a variety of developmental delays and disabilities.  This area always seemed very beneficial to me, as services or lack of services at a young age can make such a huge difference in someone’s life as they age.  With the adults with disabilities I serve now, it is easy for me to wonder in what ways their lives and/or health would be different if services and educational opportunities were different and more readily available when they were young.  I find the idea of helping children get the extra support they need during such formative years to be very rewarding.

At the start of this program I was not expecting to complete service learning project as part of my education.  I have wished for many years that I had the available time to give back to the community in some way, so this will be a good opportunity to actually be able to do this.  When I spoke with Head Start they expressed that they have a need for volunteers in a variety of areas and that the coordinator would help find an area that would work best for me.  This was also helpful as for the most part my schedule is strenuous and can vary a great deal from week to week.  I will also likely be able to spend my time at a location that is near my current workplace.  I am currently awaiting approval of my application, at which point I will meet with a Head Start coordinator about finding the project and schedule that is the best fit for me.

I know I will learn and grow from this experience.  The Center for Civic Engagement’s website mission statement made an impact on me.  One point that really resonated with me was the use of service learning to build leadership skills.  At this point in my education one of the most beneficial things I have learned as part of the BSN program is how to develop leadership skills and how critical being a good leader is in the field of nursing.  Possessing excellent leadership qualities allows a nurse to impact not only their patients’ lives, but also the field of nursing overall through their positive influence on their colleagues, and the organizations the work for, as well as those they belong to.  I look forward to using this service learning opportunity as a chance to continue to grow in the area of leadership.  I also love Westminster’s attitude toward service learning and striving to be involved and give back to the community it is part of and am excited to become a part of this.

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Student Work #2: Volunteer Care Clinic

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The service agency I was most interested in getting involved with was the Rape Recovery Crisis Center.  After talking with both the Salt Lake and the Utah County Rape Recovery agencies, I was sad to find out that the training dates for both locations were not compatible with my work schedule.  I contacted a few other agencies including the American Diabetes Association and United Way before I discovered the Volunteer Care Clinic in Provo.  This clinic provides care to the under-served population who either have financial challenges and can’t afford medical care or who do not have health insurance.  I spoke with the volunteer coordinator and was excited to learn that they are in need of an RN on Tues or Thurs evenings which are my nights off from work.  So not only is it perfect for my schedule, but it is also close to home, and I will be able to utilize my skills as a nurse.

I submitted my application this week to the Volunteer Care Clinic and I am currently waiting to hear back on what the next step is and when I can start.  It has been awhile since I was involved in a service activity and I am looking forward to this experience.

I had to think for a minute, why it is called service-learning?  Then it made sense to me, learning through service.   What things will I learn through service? I am curious as to what kind of experience I will have serving as a nurse for a different purpose than that of a paycheck.  Will me perspective me different?  Will I find greater value in what I do as a nurse?  I am interested to work with other people who I know are also volunteering their time and services.

On Westminster College’s Center for Engagement home page, a portion of the mission statement reads: “By investing in civic engagement, Westminster College expects that its students will develop better collaboration and leadership skills, deeper empathy, and a sense that they can contribute to the well-being of their homes, communities, and nation.”   I feel this statement is so insightful and the words “deeper empathy” adds such value to the meaning of service.  To be able to shift my focus from my life, to somebody in need who may be less fortunate, will open my eyes to the blessings I have and deepen my empathy for people in my community who have less.

I also appreciate the idea that I will gain a sense of contributing to the well-being of my community.  A definition of community I like:  a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.  I do believe that being able to provide service to my community will increase my feeling of fellowship within the community. – Alyssa Vest

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