From Sea to Shining Sea: Seeing Homelessness in the USA

Tuesday, July 12, 2011: 12:00 AM

Lee-Ellen Kirkhorn, PhD, RN
Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI

Learning Objective 1: Apply Concepts from an inter-cultural domestic experience to clinical practice in a variety of settings.

Learning Objective 2: Evaluate forms of technology to share the experience of inner city poverty and homelessness.

Six University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire family nurse practitioner students spent time in Spring 2010 as part of a domestic inter-cultural immersion to inner city Washington, DC and to provide nursing care for persons at several agencies that serve the homeless. The trip was funded by dollars raised by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation Board of Directors to increase the number of cultural and international immersion experiences available to students at the university: a major goal of the university strategic plan.

The present paper will describe their weeklong experience in detail, highlight student perceptions, and showcase the use of several educational technologies, such as the use of a blog, cell phone, online learning platform (Desire2Learn), and digital photography to capture and share the opportunity with other relevant audiences. Students also worked in teams and spent one night in a homeless women's shelter. Their experiences with homeless families, teenaged students in the inner city, and patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer or HIV will be presented. Issues of homeless persons (nutrition, shelter, stigma) as seen through the eyes of graduate nurses will also be showcased.