Bucks County Herald

Navajo nursing students visit Doylestown

MARY LEE REIFF



University of New Mexico-Gallup student nurses with Central Bucks nurses Carol Klein, Mary Anne Canales, Corinne Sikora, supervisor of school health services, and Lori Willingham.

Americans for Native Americans’ Expanding Horizons in Nursing partnership recently welcomed four Navajo nursing students from the University of New Mexico-Gallup.

Along with clinical time at Doylestown Hospital and Einstein Medical Center-Montgomery, new this year was an afternoon with Central Bucks School District nurses. The visit proved to be far more enlightening than anyone could have imagined. Since there are no school nurses on the Navajo reservation, it gave the students many new insights into the value of school nursing.

Nurses from an elementary, middle, and high school explained various duties at each level. As one student remarked: “The school nurses were amazing. I was blown away by all the duties they perform on a day-to-day basis.”

The students began their week with two clinical days at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery shadowing the nursing staff. They observed a coronary bypass surgery, a baby being born by Caesarian section, an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a gastric bypass sleeve procedure, and treatment for a leg wound, a few of the interventions they typically don’t see during their clinical rotations in Gallup.

One evening, they were treated to dinner at the home of Beth Duffy, Einstein Montgomery’s chief operating officer, who served traditional Philadelphia foods: cheese steaks, hoagies, soft pretzels and Tastykakes.

Doylestown Hospital mentored the students for the next two days. They worked with nurses caring for patients needing cardiac catheterizations, as well as patients in the emergency room and obstetrical units. All of these experiences were focused on caring for highly critical patients and providing exposure to advanced roles in nursing. Students valued the collaboration between the Doylestown Hospital team members and how the team took time to really help students learn.

Witnessing advanced medical interventions first-hand helps broaden the students’ understanding of the medical technologies available in a setting vastly different from their hospitals, which offer only basic services.

Now in its fourth year, the Expanding Horizons in Nursing partnership will send nurses from the area to Navajo reservation elementary schools to provide health screenings for their children in September. The program will expand from two schools last year to four reservation schools this year. Since there are no school nurses on the reservation, for most of the children, this will be the first health screening they have ever received.

For information, visit AmericansforNativeAmericans.org.

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