Collaborating with the Community through Service Learning to Serve a Vulnerable Population

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Thayer McGahee, PhD, RN
Lisa Simmons, MSN, BSN
Maureen Bravo, DNP, MS, BSN
School of Nursing, University of South Carolina Aiken, Aiken, SC

Learning Objective 1: Identify methods to utilize when implementing service learning in a BSN curriculum.

Learning Objective 2: Recognize the benefits to students and the community, of integrating service learning in a nursing curriculum in order to serve a vulnerable population.

This poster presentation will illustrate an example of the integration of service learning in a nursing curriculum, and how this creates a meaningful collaborative partnership with the community.  Faculty in a BSN program worked with regional staff of Special Olympics to coordinate and perform the required physical examinations for the Special Olympic athletes.  Nursing students, under the guidance of faculty, performed the exams on the athletes which included children in a wide range of age, physical, social, and intellectual levels.  This activity had tremendous value for both students and the community.  Prior to this partnership, Special Olympic athletes in this community had difficulty obtaining the required physicals for participation in the Special Olympic Games.  These special athletes represent a vulnerable population in this region, and the collaboration between the Special Olympics organization and the School of Nursing has been a highly successful one.  Approximately 100 athletes were able to participate each year, who otherwise would not have, as a result of this partnership.   Work is in progress to increase the availability of these exams to other potential participants.  Data is also being collected to determine whether or not this activity has an impact on nursing students’ cognitive and affective development.