Helping students break their frustration of not being able to decipher the writing on the board at the front of the classroom, or detecting unforeseen learning disabilities in their early stages are only samples of what Georgia College seniors have accomplished. This past year, they conducted health screenings in Baldwin, Bibb, Jones, Putnam and Washington County schools checking up to 1,000 children and teens—ages 3 to 18—for vision, hearing, scoliosis and developmental disabilities.
As part of Georgia College’s mission to engage with the community, four seniors share what it means to them to perform various health screenings in these schools. The Georgia College students describe their experiences in working with local three and four year-old children, as well as K-12 students.
“For me, it was being able to give back to the pediatric community specifically that I’ve been a part of in the past three years, because a lot of people don’t have that honor of being able to give back medically due to so many laws,” said Bethany Flournoy of Griffin, Georgia, aspiring pediatric nurse. “To have that privilege is just awesome.”
Kennedy Godwin of Savannah, Georgia, who would like to become an obstetrics nurse, was surprised to learn just how many cases of scoliosis exist locally.
“We were able to perform the scoliosis screenings,” said Godwin. “It helped me to see how prevalent scoliosis is, and it kind of drew together the ideas that we learned in class versus what we see in the community.”
For Katie Black of Suwanee, Georgia, who hopes to become a pediatric nurse, the health screenings gave her a better understanding of how to interact with children and teens in a medical setting.
“This experience showed me how widespread some of these diseases and disorders can be and how they are so important,” she said. “You’re not going to diagnose or find these problems unless you have these screenings, which is really vital as to how these kids are going to develop.”
Meredith Gordon of Fayetteville, Georgia, who desires to be either a pediatric or emergency room nurse, sees a far-reaching problem of children and teens going undiagnosed.
“I learned how important the health screenings are to do because if a student is having trouble with their vision or hearing, then it’s going to slow their development in the classroom and level of academic performance
because they can’t see or hear the teacher,” said Gordon. “And, it will affect them socially because they can’t keep up with their peers, which can cause low self-esteem and have a long-term affect.”
In the case of scoliosis screenings, once the teens are tested, the schools provide the number of cases that Georgia College students were able to identify or put at risk. Then, the students are able to arrive at the exact numbers of how many teens they have identified in the screening.
Prior to conducting the health screenings, the students spend an entire day in the lab training. They have a pre-test, watch a DVD to learn more about normal and abnormal screenings, then, they are tested on the course.
“The community setting allows our students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-life children,” says Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Krystal Canady, “It also allows them to be visible in the community to show that Georgia College is active and involved in supporting our schools.”
Although the health screenings are part of the clinical requirements for the pediatric course, Canady mentions that she didn’t have to make the screenings a clinical requirement.
“We could do all of our hours at a hospital, but I feel this is very important for the students to recognize the importance of being and helping in the community,” she said. “I also have students volunteer to help the school nurses sometimes even when they’re not mandated to do them.”
While seniors conduct the health screenings as they have been trained on how to do them, it is possible for juniors to perform the health screenings if they have the proper training.
Georgia College students perform the health screenings annually, and they’ve become highly anticipated with area schools.
“The schools are always very excited about us coming and reach out to me early in the summer, even before the semester begins to ensure that our nursing students are going to be there and to help with these screenings,” said Canady. “They always give me positive feedback to say they’re very appreciative and to let us know how much we made a difference.”