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Posted on Jul 13, 2017

St. Croix trip teaches nursing students a new level of caregiving

St. Croix trip teaches nursing students a new level of caregiving

After a successful two-week excursion to St. Croix, a team of USF College of Nursing students returned home with heightened passions and stronger understandings of healthcare in other communities.

A group of 13 USF students embarked on an exploration of St. Croix’s culture, healthcare, and community. Arriving in St. Croix on May 13, 2017, students had the opportunity to relax, experience the Caribbean Island’s waters and forests, and engage with an open-armed citizenry before setting to work. Elizabeth T. Jordan, DNSC, RNC, FAAN, associate professor and senior assistant dean of the undergraduate nursing program,  and Sharlene Smith, DNP, MS, ARNP, CPNP, associate professor and pediatric nurse practitioner concentration director, led the team of young professionals through an invaluable opportunity.

“This group of students embraced this community public experience and the amazing cultural opportunities the island offered,” Jordan said. “Students worked together as a team to provide education and screenings.”

During their trip, students shadowed medical teams at local hospitals, spoke with 130 elementary students about dental hygiene, performed 103 blood pressure readings at the local Saturday market, conducted 241 scoliosis screenings with middle school students, and educated 30 elementary school students about proper handwashing techniques. Students also had an opportunities to hold health seminars at three different elementary schools.

One goal for this trip was the immersion into the culture. In addition to their journey through St. Croix’s healthcare communities, these USF students also brought smiles, laughter, and jubilation to senior citizens. A senior prom was held for the residents of Flamboyant Gardens, complete with decorations in USF Bulls colors.

“They truly worked great together,” Jordan said. “This clinical experience gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture while providing education.”

Upon visiting 27 residents of Queen Louise Home for Children, which houses children who have been abused and abandoned, students and faculty donated gift packages of flip-flops, socks and treats to each child.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience,” said Shannon King, BSN student. “We participated in activities such as snorkeling, boat rides, bioluminescent kayaking, hiking, island bingo, and started each day with breakfast on the ocean front. I believe that future students should participate in this experience to gain insight on healthcare systems, nursing practices, and cultures outside of the U.S.”

“This kind of trip changes the way students look at caregiving,” says Jordan. “It touches each student differently, but will impact how they provide health education and care in their future practice.”

To read more about the 2017 St. Croix Community Health Experience, visit the student blog.

View more photos.

Story by Nicholas Orlando, USF College of Nursing Communications & Marketing graduate assistant