Immersion in Service Learning Offers a Leadership Focus for Today's Nursing Student
Repository Posting Date2012-01-11T10:57:18Z
Author(s)Lamaute, Kathleen M.
Author DetailsKathleen M. Lamaute, EdD, FNP-BC, NEA-BC, CNE
(41st Biennial Convention) Purpose: Cultivating leadership skills in undergraduate nursing is the bedrock of the future of nursing. Today's nursing student's schedules are busy; they attend classes while holding many other responsibilities. Service learning encompasses many aspects of nursing leadership. It incorporates practice, economics, environment and health care policy. It empowers students to step out of their comfort zone and explore reality. Methods: An alternative elective immersion course design was offered for undergraduate nursing students to experience community service learning within the context of the homeless population in a post Katrina disaster environment. The course was offered during Spring break so students could participate without having to change their schedules. Course objectives addressed the impact of political, social, cultural, environmental, economic and legal issues on health and well being. The role of the nurse advocate was explored. Course requirements included preparatory work on social justice and a review of interdisciplinary literature related to post Katrina New Orleans. Results: Community based immersion and care to the homeless was a requirement. Collaborative seminars with providers who worked during Katrina gave students a real life glimpse of the ethics and professional turmoil involved in disaster care. Ongoing reflection on the experience and how it altered personal and professional values and perceptions was a keystone course component. Journal entries identified a change in how students saw their profession and the world. A multimedia project allowed students elaboration on essential experiential components. Conclusion: Today's students need more flexible and alternative course formats in order to expand their nursing world view. Nursing faculty can create valuable opportunities for time-constrained students to experience service and leadership perspectives of the profession. Curriculum that directs students toward real life experience and promotes leadership potential in a manner that is sensitive to their schedule is an effective way to connect needs and outcomes.