University of West Georgia nursing students are getting an education beyond the clinic walls thanks to a new preceptorship program.
Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well has kicked off a new program connecting nursing students to a variety of community health opportunities in Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties. Get Healthy, Live Well and the University of West Georgia’s Tanner Health System School of Nursing partnered to create a preceptorship program to help nursing students increase knowledge and gain skills in community health work.
“Getting nursing students involved in the community is an important contribution to the health and wellbeing of residents in west Georgia,” said Denise Taylor, senior vice president and chief community health and brand officer for Tanner. “This program provides a service to the community while giving students an opportunity to utilize knowledge and skills that will help them after graduation.”
More than 50 nursing students are participating in the program, which involves completing a 28-hour rotation.
“This clinical experience is a wonderful opportunity for nursing students to connect to the community,” said Jenny Schuessler, PhD, RN, CNE, dean of the nursing school. “With the changes occurring in our healthcare delivery system, it is critical that our students have the opportunity to work with people in the community and to see first-hand that nursing and health care are not bound by the walls of a hospital. We are pleased to be part of the Get Healthy, Live Well initiative and appreciate the many aspects of our academic-practice partnership with Tanner.”
Nursing students attended an Aug. 19 orientation, where they learned more about Get Healthy, Live Well and practiced skills that will help them communicate better with patients. Students also learned skills they will need to facilitate one of Get Healthy, Live Well’s evidence-based programs like the Diabetes Prevention Program, Kids N Fitness or Freshstart, a tobacco cessation program.
During orientation, Tanner’s Community Health Director Amy Riedesel talked about why Get Healthy, Live Well is focusing on population and community health.
“With population health, we’re really looking at the entire population of the community and how we can improve health,” said Riedesel. “We’re working to change the culture around health — that’s our mission here. We’d love for you to be part of that mission.”
She noted that nearly 50 percent of Americans have at least one chronic disease, while 86 percent of healthcare expenditures are spent on treating these illnesses. To address the community’s healthcare needs, Get Healthy, Live Well is focusing on the preventive side of healthcare by increasing education and programs to delay or prevent people from developing chronic disease.
“Our goal with this program is the holistic care of patients — not focusing on one thing, but looking at the whole patient,” said Riedesel. “Where are they living? What resources do they have? How many people are they caring for? What’s their education level? Are there language barriers? All of these different things impact health, so we’re working with individuals while keeping all of that in mind.”
During the preceptorship, students will also have the opportunity to participate in several community health initiatives that focus on improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and managing or preventing chronic disease. Those opportunities include participating in the Power of Produce (POP) Club at the Cotton Mill Farmers’ Market, the interactive Kids Exhibit that teaches children about healthy lifestyles, health education events at local churches and more.
Before the orientation ended, nursing student John Volk of Dallas had already signed up to volunteer for a health education event at a local church.
“I do a lot of volunteer work and community work as it is, so this is right up my alley,” Volk said.
He was impressed with what he learned about Get Healthy, Live Well, saying that the orientation was “very well done” and “covered all aspects of the program.”
“There’s a huge breadth to the program of which you wouldn’t ordinarily be aware,” Volk said.
For more information about Get Healthy, Live Well, visit www.GetHealthyLiveWell.org.