Learning, Leading, Serving on the Streets: A serve learning experience with the homeless

Monday, 18 November 2013: 3:55 PM

Nan Ketcham, MSN, RN
School of Nursing, Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing, Dallas, TX
Cheryl A. Tucker, MSN, RN, CNE
School of Nursing, Baylor University, Louise Herrington School of Nursing, Dallas, TX

Learning Objective 1: Identify creative service learning experiences with the vulnerable homeless population.

Learning Objective 2: Describe three positive outcome measures when evaluating community clinical experiences.

As community clinical placements become increasingly difficult moving a clinical practicum to the streets of Dallas, Texas provided a service learning experience for community clinical students.  Meeting the basic needs of the homeless including personal hygiene, clothing, nutrition, spiritual support, and medical screening, the accelerated BSN (ABSN) students incorporated health and community assessment screenings, basic nursing skills, and spiritual support to touch this invisible population.  During this clinical practicum, the students provided foot care, blood pressure screening, hot meals, clothing, and times of prayer in partnership with a local church’s homeless ministry.  As the student’s washed the feet of the homeless, they listened to the story of each person.  The church’s pastor stated, “What some of these individuals crave even more than food or healthcare is simply a friendly face and somebody to listen to their story.”

In developing the ABSN community clinical practicum with this vulnerable population, data from the fall 2009 HESI® Exit Exam scores were utilized to evaluate previous community clinical experiences. The fall 2009 Community Health HESI® Exit Exam score was 521. After implementing this service learning experience in the classroom and community setting, the ABSN’s spring 2012 Community Health HESI® Exit Exam score increased to 1044.

Student’s reflective journals about their service learning experience included, “..definitely taught me to try and live more humbly; to not discriminate or judge others; and to be more grateful for everyday blessings.”  The vision of the School of Nursing is to ensure that each nurse makes the world a better place. This clinical experience with the homeless population provides the student the opportunity to apply the school’s motto of Learn, Lead, and Serve.