From Vaccination Clinics to Public Schools, TCU Nursing is Learning through Service

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Nurse administering flu shotSharon Canclini says service learning has always been a part of the TCU Public Health Nursing identity.

Service learning engages students not only in their respective disciplines, but in the examination of their roles as future leaders. Faculty partner with local leaders to design service projects that enhance learning and meet the needs of our community. In other words, it is truly a win-win.

Canclini, assistant professor of professional practice in TCU Nursing, shares about their unique service-learning endeavor.

Tell us about your service-learning endeavor and how you have incorporated it into your course?

We want to provide the community with a meaningful service while the students learn critical public health nursing skills, knowledge and attitudes.

Sharon Canclini

Sharon Canclini

What community need is your course/initiative aiming to fill?

In the fall, my students assist with the mass vaccination of the students, staff and faculty. The TCU Annual Mass Influenza Immunization program has been caring for the TCU community for 13 years! This semester, my student teams have been assisting school nurses with vision and hearing screenings and basic physical care of K-12 students and staff at several Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD schools. In return, the EMSISD School Nurses have mentored the TCU Nursing students in the specialty area of school nursing. Likewise, a student team assigned to the Tarrant County Public Health Department (TCPHD) assisted the community with COVID-19 vaccines/testing and assorted clinic duties while the TCU Nursing students partnered with Tarrant County Public Health Department clinic nurses to learn about the roles of the public health nurses. With both of these experiences, the students were given the opportunity to experience community-based population health. The community partners agreed to change job descriptions and develop follow-on training, should the new graduate nurse elect to work in this specific area of nursing upon graduation.

What kind of activities did you and your students involved in during the project? 

As mentioned, we work with vaccine delivery, COVID-19 testing, screenings, and first aid, and students worked with school nurses in all areas of school nursing from K-12.  Likewise, in the TCPHD clinics, students worked alongside the nurses in refugee health, travel health, mobile clinics, community clinics (such as one we did at Hurst Fire station), epidemiology and health department management.

Can your share any outcomes from your project?  Consider your students, the community, as well as your own experience.

Since this semester’s clinical experiences were pilot workforce programs, the students helped our community partners identify what the new graduate nurse would need to learn and how to adapt the clinical experience to meet the learning needs of the students while still providing meaningful service for the community partners. The students were able to identify specialized training that would allow them to have a more meaningful impact in the communities. Likewise, the nurse mentors learned about the capacity of the novice soon-to-be graduate nursing student. Students and community members learned that – for the best clinical experience – both the community partner and the nursing student need to be familiar with each other’s role and capacity.

Together, the school nurses and public health nurses worked with the students in TCU Nursing to develop recommendations for the follow-on cohorts of nurses. Some suggestions included selecting students interested in pediatrics for the school nurse clinical (since this is the main population being served) and assisting the school nurses during peak screening seasons to make the process easier on the children and more efficient for the nurses. This assistance will support the needs of the children as they miss fewer classroom hours and can be screened early in the academic year.

The public health nurses identified the need to pivot away from COVID-19 and back to the many public health issues that have been neglected for the past two years. One idea is to help TCPHD develop the mobile hospital notion to include undergraduate nursing students. While this is still in the discovery phase, the nursing students are interested in refugee health, homelessness, rural health and justice issues in the community.

For information on how to incorporate service learning into course curriculum, contact Rosangela Boyd, director of service learning and academic initiatives.