Growing in Recovery: A Service Learning Case Study

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Amanda Eymard, DNS
Nursing, Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, LA, USA
Heidi Rodrigue, BSN
Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, Thibodaux, LA, USA

This qualitative case study utilized heuristic phenomenology to explore the potential impact of initiating a garden at a halfway house. For the service learning project, a garden was developed by nursing students in collaboration with clients at the facility. A grant from Sigma Theta Tau funded the project. During this project, one client emerged as the primary caretaker of the garden. This male client, undergoing rehabilitation for drug abuse, became the subject of the case study. A senior nursing student mentored by a faculty member conducted the case study. Over a period of five months, the subject was interviewed extensively during several different encounters to gain an understanding of his lived experience regarding drug abuse, rehabilitation, and the garden. The interviews were transcribed, and then line by line analysis was performed by the nursing student and faculty mentor. This opportunity was the student's first exposure to nursing research and allowed the student to participate in an actual research study. Coding was implemented to identify five themes: new beginning, growth, bumps in the road, hard work, and fruits of labor. Over the course of the case study, the student discovered correlations and illustrates these with a five month timeline. While the garden benefitted the halfway house by providing vegetables for the clients to eat, the experience also impacted the nursing student. The nursing student was able to establish a rapport with the client and over time, better understood addiction and the treatment of addiciton. Nursing students need to engage in positive experiences with patients struggling with addiction so they can better relate to the clients and reduce the stigma associated with drug addiction. In conclusion, the subject, the nursing student, and the garden grew and flourished as a result of the service learning project involving a few plants, water, and much hard work and dedication.