Curriculum Development and Service Learning to Bring Theory into Practice

Monday, 9 November 2015

Margaret Alexandre, MS, RN
Department of Nursing, CUNY/York College, Jamaica, NY, USA

An elective course was developed incorporating the Student Learning Outcomes; which included the need to advocate for health policies that address local and global health issues, effectively communicate with diverse client populations and disciplines using a variety of strategies and respecting client's cultural beliefs and practices, as well as the essential curriculum concepts: Communication/Collaboration, Safety/Technology, Critical Thinking/Nursing Process, Leadership/Management, Professional Accountability/ Advocacy, Legal, Moral, Ethics and Research. A two week service learning component in Haiti, gave the nursing students the opportunity to immerse and provide needed services to an underserved population. Senior and junior level nursing students were selected. Nursing students and faculty worked along other health professionals in the Carries community; at the Mission of Grace Medical Clinic, Orphanage, Elementary School, and Senior Home. Course preparation involved: development and review of syllabus, completion of assigned readings and research on Haiti’s history, culture, healthcare, social and economic issues as well as immersion in the Kreyol language. Students also attended seminars and an eight hour orientation before travel. Emphasis was placed on communication, critical thinking, client education, cultural considerations and evidence-based clinical guidelines in nursing practice. Conferences and lectures were held to assist the students to reflect, synthesize. Overall the course provided a service learning experience where students could contribute; to delivery of health care; to underserved population on a global level; as well as to provide engaged learning that integrates theory into practice. Comparison and contrast could be made within and among the communities. While a fair comparison could not be made, inequality and inequity among the local people was undeniable. Another is the need for infrastructure (health care, education, sanitation, water, and housing). We left being more appreciative of the things we take for granted living the United States, such as clean water, shelter, and access to health care.