On December 12, 2011 KILN scholars gathered for their monthly seminar, in which two KILN seniors gave a presentation on their community health mentoring experiences and projects.  In addition, Dean Read talked about the Biomedical Science Careers Student Conference, which will be held in March, and about professional opportunities  freshmen and sophomores can seek.  The KILN staff also announced that one of the students presenting, Sabianca Delva, will be graduating in December and expressed how she has been a wonderful member of this community.  They also wished her the best of luck with taking the NCLEX (the nursing licensing exam) and joining the hospital workforce.

Nguyet Chau did her community health clinical at Laboure Center, an organization that provides social, health, and educational services to the South Boston community, where she became interested in working with the elderly population.  One topic that caught her attention was elder substance abuse as it is not a health problem discussed by many.  Within this community, there are three different kinds of substance abuse, alcohol, nicotine, and prescription drugs, all of which can lead to serious complications.  Many of these elders tend to deny their addiction because they are ashamed and do not want to admit that their addiction has taken control over their lives.  At the same time, their family members may unintentionally help to prolong the addiction by ignoring it.  Moreover, some healthcare providers struggle with finding the best way to discuss with patients the possibility of having an addiction as some of them may feel embarrassed and confront healthcare providers.  The lack of awareness within both, the community and healthcare providers, motivated Nguyet to research screening tools  that can identify substance abuse in the elderly population.  After completing the research, she developed three brochures for health care providers to use as part of their assessments.

Sabianca Delva also presented at the KILN meeting on her community health mentoring experience in Casa Myrna, an agency that provides shelter and services for survivors of domestic or dating violence.  One of  Sabianca’s projects consisted on educating a group of women on how to be healthy.  She realized there was a record of poor nutrition amongst these people and wanted to help them become healthy.  While doing some research for this project, she discovered that one in four girls and one in six boys are abused in the United States.  She also found out that two out of three people in the LGBTQ community are abused in the United States.  After learning more about the lifestyles of the population she was working with, Sabianca thought about ways she could effectively impact this community and created a healthy recipe book for them.  All of the recipes were for dishes they loved to eat but used healthier ingredients.

These presentations made me see how nurses can have a real leadership role in their community.  Leadership can be used to create awareness about an issue the majority of people do not know about and hopefully promote a healthier lifestyle among different populations.  Both presentations also touched upon different and unique populations, which made me think about the diversity of patients and the importance of understanding them holistically to provide the best care possible.

To view the presentations by Nguyet Chau and Sabianca Delva please click on the following link. KILN Community Presentation (Chau and Delva)