By Lucy Beeler
Ozark West Elementary happens to be one of the locations we’ve coordinated vision screenings for in the past. This time, everything went smoothly. It allowed me a chance to notice the connections nursing students were making while getting their service-learning hours. They were all talking with the school nurse. They asked about her career and how she successfully worked her way into a position they were considering as well. She explained the history of her education and her experience in pediatrics. It’s unlikely these nurses-in-training expected it from the day, but they appeared to enjoy networking with from a professional in their field, while also earning course credit through service-learning.
Later, at Walnut Grove, we screened all the children within the school. Noticeable at this screening was the teamwork and leadership occurring in the service-learning students. Three nursing students who had not yet done screenings and another student who had participated in previous screenings collaborated in order to get the job done. For instance, while I was organizing kids in the hallway, the student who had more experience was helping the nursing student learn how to operate the SPOT screening camera.
Generally, the best way to learn about the camera is to just screen as much as possible, but the experienced student was teaching the nursing student some of the tips and tricks he had previously learned. It was amazing to see the multi-faceted skill development in our service-learners and the children at the school getting to benefit from it.
While the primary goal is to perform screenings for nurses/administrators of facilities, the vision program also provides a valuable opportunity for students of many disciplines to practice their leadership skills. It’s a total win-win: we are able to offer a service to the community, and the students are placed in a situation by which they can practice their career and leadership skills.
Lucy Beeler is a Graduate Assistant and Vision Screening Program team leader for Citizenship & Service-Learning. She has a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology and is working toward her Master of Public Health. Learn more about the vision program and other Featured Initiatives involving students on our webpage.