Girl Scout Nursing Exploration Fair: A Collaborative Community Service Learning Experience for Nursing Students

Sunday, November 1, 2009

William T. Campbell, EdD, MS, RN
Department of Nursing, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD

Learning Objective 1: describe a non-traditional nursing clinical experience for their nursing student which offers hands-on experience with teaching and leadership.

Learning Objective 2: incorporate a collaborative approach to a clinical experience which exposes the nursing student to other nurses, nursing roles, and a local youth organization.

Finding clinical experiences for a pediatric nursing course is always a challenge, and even more so in rural areas. Our rural baccalaureate nursing program uses a number of non-traditional experiences outside the acute hospital setting that utilize community nursing, out-patient sites, developmental screening, school observations, and a qualitative research project.  The experience which receives the highest praise from the students and the community is our Girl Scout Nursing Exploration Fair. It is a community service teaching project that will develop healthier lifestyles and a better understanding of nursing for the attendees and hopefully encourage new recruits for the ranks of nursing.           

The large all-day event is a collaboration between Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Council, the local chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), a local nurse mentor group (PIN), our university (SU) and its nursing department & student nurses association (SNA). The pediatric course clinical groups plan, develop, teach, conduct, and evaluate the various small interactive teaching stations.  Larger assembly presentations are conducted by the STTI local chapter and the SNA members. The Girl Scout council handles PR and registration. The girls who attend learn about nursing as a profession, are exposed to various roles of nursing, receive age appropriate health education, and meet the requirements for their Nursing Exploration Badge.  Organization and a strict timetable help make the yearly event a success.           

Considering the global distribution of Girl Scouts and/or similar youth organizations this type of collaborative event could be adopted by any nursing school to make a positive impact on the youth of their local community. Furthermore the event would give their nursing students valuable hands-on teaching and leadership experience. With the current global nursing shortage any community event which showcases nurses, nursing students, and the nursing profession is a great recruitment tool.