Creating Meaningful Partnerships with the Community Through Service Learning

Monday, 22 July 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 into a BSN curriculum.

Learning Objective 2: Recognize the benefits of integrating service learning in a nursing curriculum to students, the community, the school, and the university as a whole.

Purpose: The purpose of this presentation is to illustrate an example of the integeration of service learning in a nursing curriculum, and how this creates a meaningful collaboration with the community.  The way this activity bridges the gap between research, practice, and service will also be presented.

Methods: 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 studetns, 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.  Work is in progress to increase the availability of these exams to other potential special athletes.  Data is also being collected to determine whether or not this activity has an impact on nursing students' cognitive and affective development.

Results: Results of data collection are pending.

Conclusion: This collaborative activity had tremendous value for both nursing 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.  Approximately 100 athletes were able to participate, who otherwise would not have, as a result of this partnership.