On April 19, the College of Nursing hosted it’s ninth annual Celebration of Success for fourth and fifth semester nursing students in the David L. Eisler Center, celebrating the end of research, the end of studying and the beginning of a medical journey.
The celebration was a time for students to share the research they have done over the semester with poster presentations.
Fifth semester nursing students showcased their capstone projects, which ranged from perinatal bereavement to child abuse, while fourth semester nursing students showcased their academic service learning projects, which ranged from food banks to children’s camps.
According to Associate Professor Susan Owens, capstone projects are completed by students in their last semester on a topic of their choice. They have to investigate the concept, which will influence their practice, and become close to experts on the subject.
“In practice, they will be presenting [this information] to physicians and other health care providers,” Owens said. “It’s a great communication tool so that they can be successful in their practice.”
Owens says if students decide to go to graduate school, they will have original research they can present alongside their resume and academic portfolio. While capstone projects are the last thing students must complete before graduating, academic service learning projects serve as community service with a healthcare twist.
“This gives them practice, and generally it’s in a community setting, and they are doing something for the population that they decide to do,” Owens said. “There are a lot of examples in there, but I helped with the wellness clinic at the College of Optometry that takes care of patients with diabetes.”
Owens says some students also choose to work with food pantries to see how much nutrition individuals are getting when they receive goods there. Associate Professor Jeremy Brooks says the projects that fourth semester nursing students do is significant to their education, as it helps them see what healthcare opportunities are out there.
“What kind of healthcare is out there? Or how does service really impact people’s care?” Brooks said. “A lot of places they complete service learning at are actually health-related… It’s really about service because part of nursing is service for your life, and so looking at how they can implement that early on in their career… and then continue on throughout life.”
Fourth semester nursing students Connor Haley and Jesse Rivera volunteered at Camp Henry for kids ages five to 17 in Newaygo, Michigan over the summer. They conducted lice checks and COVID-19 tests and made sure each kid had all their medications for the week they would be staying.
“The biggest thing [I learned] throughout the project is just different ways nurses can help,” Rivera said. “It’s not just about providing medication or administering medication. A lot of the kids sometimes just want somebody to talk to; you don’t know what kind of homes they come from. Sometimes they just need a listening ear, and I think it was nice to be able to do that and be that.”
Haley said learning to work and communicate with kids of all ages and developmental stages prepared them for a future in pediatrics.
“If we’re going to be working in pediatrics, people aged five to 17, you’re gonna see them a lot in the hospitals or doctor offices,” Rivera said. “I think being able to communicate and understand [the] different backgrounds of different children is sometimes more than medication, sometimes they just need somebody to talk to them.”
Throughout the event, Haley and Rivera were able to speak with fifth year nursing students about their capstone projects and gain inspiration for their upcoming projects.
“I really want to look into child abuse cases and ways that we can change that,” Haley said. “My mom worked for Child Protective Services, and it’s something that really touched me in our working with kids. It’s such a big issue in our society.”
Fifth semester nursing student Madison Pruett shared her poster presentation on educating students from pre-school through high school on child abuse and what signs they should look for.
Pruett says child abuse is prevalent and children often can’t decipher whether they are being abused or not. Through her research study, she proposed that schools should incorporate educational sessions varying in information depending on the age group to help teach them about the topic.
“During my clinical experience, I actually had a child come in that was a case of child abuse,” Pruett said. “It really hurt me and affected me. So then I wanted to research more on that.”
Pruett says the child had been left freezing in his mother’s car and didn’t realize that what his mother put him through was a form of abuse.
“I think it’s important [to share this information] because child abuse is very prevalent, and a lot of people don’t realize how prevalent it is,” Pruett said. “Getting this information out and having all these people further out education to others is very important.”
Brooks says that he taught both fourth and fifth semester nursing students this past semester and says it has been good seeing them all wrap up their work, come to the event prepared to share their research and be excited to share the information they plan to implement in their future work as nurses.
For nursing students graduating this spring, this event was their last chance to present their own findings before applying it to their own work in the medical field.