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Selkirk nursing students influence change in health care

University of Victoria students at Selkirk College are influencing change with regards to health care practices in our local communities. Towards the end of last semester, the fourth year Nursing students held a Mini Conference at the college showcasing twenty “Influencing Change” projects. The students worked with community partners in various projects that examined what is happening in our community with regards to health care practices and included topics such as emergency room overcrowding, the nursing shortage, workplace health and support for respiratory emergencies in rural care settings.

Sandi McCreight of Castlegar Community Services and Diana Lunde, a local Public Health Nurse, were assigned as community “field guides” for student Erika Hayton. As field guides, they were responsible for guiding Erika and providing support for the project undertaken for her change topic-increasing awareness with regard to post partum depression.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to be selected as field guides for fourth year Nursing students in the past-it’s an amazing opportunity!” explained McCreight. “The project work the students undertake is of great benefit in terms of sharing new, up to date information. It definitely enhances the learning process, knowledge and expertise of all parties involved.”

McCreight and Lunde co-facilitate a Mom’s Support Group which is a volunteer program of Castlegar Community Services. Student Erika Hayton participated in and co-facilitated the group to gain hands on knowledge and support.

Hayton’s presentation revealed the results of her research which compared local practices regarding post partum depression assessment and support to the best practice guidelines provided through the BC Reproductive Care Program. Hayton found that there were definite gaps in terms of lack of screening and support for new mothers with post partum depression.

Hayton, who will be graduating in April 2010, will be presenting her findings at the Grand Rounds, a monthly meeting for local physicians. She has also influenced change through the mom’s group she is working with by sharing her knowledge with the current facilitators and members of the group.

“The experience has been just fantastic,” said Hayton. “The community support and willingness from the field guides to help me find local information and connect me with key community players was overwhelming. As a Nursing student close to graduation, it’s very encouraging.”

Other projects undertaken by the Nursing students also produced concrete results. Shani Sherrod and Naomi Nevakshonoff were successful in securing funding from Columbia Basin Trust for the development of a website pertaining to eating disorder assessments, while Jill Elliott and Cheralynne Kennedy helped a local community group write a proposal to operate their nurseries all year long, which would enable them to grow fresh greens for the food bank and increase food security in the Nelson area.

These are just a few examples of the many positive Influencing Change projects fourth year students were involved in. For those interested in finding out more about the results and/or the Nursing program in general, please contact  Instructor Lorill Harding at 250.365.1234 or visit the program's site.