Integrating a Haiti Service Learning Component Into a Nursing School Curriculum

Sunday, 29 October 2017: 3:25 PM

Margarett Alexandre, MS
Department of Nursing, City University of New York/York College, Jamaica, NY, USA
Jacqueline Cassagnol, MSN
Worldwide Community First Responder, Inc., Nanuet, NY, USA

The purpose of this presentation is to share the experience of a Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) member integrating a Haiti service learning component into a nursing school curriculum. The goal of this project was to add an international service learning component to an online nursing program curriculum. The component would provide RN-BSN nursing students the opportunity to come together and apply their didactic learning to a global field setting, while incorporating their clinical knowledge skills and attitudes with their understanding of cultural competence, social justice, social determinants of health and advocacy in the vulnerable and underserved populations of Haiti. Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. After the earthquake of January 12, 2010, Haiti is in even greater need of healthcare support.

The STTI member developed the course in 2012 incorporating the student learning outcomes, which included the need to advocate for health policies that address local and global health issues, to effectively communicate with diverse client populations and disciplines using a variety of strategies, and to respect client's cultural beliefs and practices. The course provides opportunities for students enrolled in the online community course to travel to Haiti with CUNY School of Professional Studies faculty. The STTI member traveled to Haiti with the first group of nursing students in 2013, and recently traveled with the sixth group to Haiti in January 2017. Prior to their travel, the students were required to research Haiti’s history, culture, healthcare, social and economic issues. While in Haiti, pre and post conferences and lectures were held to assist the students in reflecting, synthesizing, and applying theory to clinical practice. The students worked alongside healthcare professionals, at the Mission of Grace Medical Clinic, elementary school, orphanage and elderly home, to assess healthcare needs in the rural community of Carries, Haiti.

The course has been effective. The students gained international service learning and community experience in the various specialty areas such as medical, pediatric, maternity services, child health, diabetes, cardiac, hypertension, geriatric and environmental health. They visited an orphanage and a geriatric home to gain further experience with these vulnerable populations. In addition to providing real world learning opportunities for the students, the course provides opportunities to immerse with the community and culture. The students also developed individualized plan of care to address the various health issues identified throughout the community. The impact of this project on the STTI member, community, students and faculty will be discussed.