Child Wellness Day: An Interdisciplinary Community Engagement Service

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Sarah Wallace, MSN, RN, CPN, CNE
Azza Ahmed, DNSc, IBCLC, CPNP
Jennifer Coddington, DNP, MSN, RN, CPNP
Deborah Spoerner, DNP, MSN, RN, CPNP
School of Nursing, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

Background: Located in a Midwestern state of the United States, Purdue University has been nationally recognized as a top school for international student admissions. School records noted a total of 9,133 international students enrolled for studies with the highest percentages coming from China, India, and South Korea. Over the past ten years, international student enrollment increased by 41% increasing diversity on campus. Nationwide, the Council of Graduate Schools reported a 10% increase in the first-time enrollment of international graduate students from 2012 to 2013. Total enrollment of international graduate students among responding institutions reached 220,000 in 2013.

Many international students bring their families with them to provide support while in school. International students’ families face high levels of stress which correlates to challenging health concerns. Additional health screenings have been recommended to identify and prevent illness for this population. Unfortunately, many children of graduate students are not able to receive adequate health care due to the limitations on health insurance. These children face potential health concerns without adequate access to care.

Purpose: This abstract will describe an annual community engagement partnership to provide health promotion and screening for international graduate students’ children.

Method: In 2011, the Purdue Graduate Student Government (PGSG) recognized that graduate student’s children were not receiving well care check-ups and immunizations due to the lack of insurance coverage. The PGSG approached nursing faculty in the hopes of developing a child wellness day which allowed nursing students an opportunity to assist in providing necessary interventions to graduate students’ children. Over the last six years, Child Wellness Day has occurred each fall semester to provide health promotion services. Purdue’s School of Nursing collaborates with student organizations, local family health clinics, PGSG, and undergraduate and graduate students in other departments for this event. These departments include: Pharmacy, Nutrition Science, Speech, language and Hearing Sciences, and Purdue Extension. Additional partnerships occur between the Tippecanoe County Health Department and local businesses. This event offers the children of graduate students’ preventative healthcare free of charge. Services include health education booths, physical exams, eye exams, hearing/speech screenings, hemoglobin/lead screenings, and immunizations.

Outcomes: Over the past few years Child Wellness Day has provided services for 350 children and their families, with most children coming from international families.

Community Engagement: Support from the community, PGSG and school provide the foundation for Child Wellness Day. Yearly grants have supplied needed funds for expenses which occurred during the event. International graduate students receive assistance with transportation and parking to arrive at the event without unnecessary additional costs. Nursing faculty and community leaders meet monthly before the event to develop a plan for each implementation. Undergraduate nursing students connect with local businesses to provided food donations for the event. Teamwork and collaboration with multiple departments is necessary to ensure the event runs smoothly.

Service Learning: Child Wellness Day requires the collaboration of many students and faculty members. Each year, over 70 students from different disciplines participate in this event. Booths staffed by students provide nutritional teaching, community resources, and small gifts. Undergraduate nursing students provide teaching, screening, and assistance for developmental play while graduate nursing students perform assessments on each child. Nursing faculty assist in monitoring each student's’ progress and providing feedback about the care. Following the event, students write reflective journals on how this experience enhanced their learning. Child Wellness Day offers a needed resource for graduate students’ children at Purdue University. This event focuses on health promotion and disease prevention on campus and positively impacts these families and the community around them.