Grant Will Fund Service Learning Opportunities for Nursing Students

By Spencer Watson

“These opportunities provide a way for students and faculty to provide care to patients across the state of Arkansas, especially in underserved areas,” said Patricia Cowan, Ph.D., RN, dean and professor of the College of Nursing. “That makes students more likely to serve these communities and populations long term when they enter the workforce, particularly in health promotion and disease prevention.”

The grant funding will support the purchase of equipment that is often lacking among service learning opportunity providers, including such diagnostic items as portable exam tables and equipment used in assessing eyesight and hearing.

The college has established relationships with between 35 and 45 service learning opportunity providers every year. These include the Mexican Consulate, the annual Special Olympics Medfest, schools, churches, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Arkansas Minority Commission.

As a small and largely rural state, Arkansas faces high rates of health disparities in both access and outcomes, and service learning opportunities work to address that inequality.

“The UAMS College of Nursing has found that engaging other health professions and nursing in service learning opportunities helps to improve access to preventative screenings and education for patients and promotes students’ long term community service,” said Cowan. “Through health promotion and disease prevention screenings, many chronic illnesses can be prevented and patients can be encouraged to engage in healthy lifestyle choices.

“The equipment provided by this grant will increase our ability to offer additional opportunities for students and provide needed care to underserved populations and rural residents in Arkansas.”