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MSU nursing students learn by doing

The Adult Health Maintenance Clinic, a community outreach clinic, is the definitive experience in service learning for Minot State University nursing students. Simply put, they learn by doing. Meanwhile, hundreds of people age 55 and older receive foot maintenance and care for other critical health concerns.

"A 100-year-old woman told the student nurses about her diet, what she does for her vitamins and medications. She was getting advise from the nurse when she was getting her feet done," Salome Guerrero, a S4 or senior nursing student, said. "It's not just foot care, it's holistic care."

AHMC began as a public health nursing class project in the fall 2007. Students assessed Minot and its surrounding region, and they identified an existing need to address foot care and other health-based issues for the elderly population. In fall 2008, nursing students established the clinic, which grew into a model program for the state. AHMC is held twice a month at Henry Towers in southeast Minot, and clients receive care for a suggested donation. However, no one is turned away.

"This semester we incorporated ‘S1s,' the first-semester nursing students," said Nikki Medalen, assistant nursing professor. "They come each clinic date and update charts, do medication reviews and complete intake forms and health histories of new clients. S1s practice their skills on an audience, which loves the attention the students give. S1s have the opportunity to work with ‘well elderly' early on in their curriculum, and the experience introduces them to the clinic - so they have greater buy-in and understanding of the clinic's function.

"So, I hope students realize that it's not just direct patient care, but they should always consider the environment or social structure that people are living in," Medalen added. "It's bigger than foot care."

S4 Darcy Mott felt the S1 students are a nice addition to the clinic.

"They (S1 students) were able to give the clients more attention than we students were able to. I feel the patients get a better, more in depth review of their medical histories and medications. It was good to have the Semester 1 students there."

Students work with clients requesting care that ranges from understanding medication management, to regular blood-pressure checks to maintenance of healthy feet. AHMC is a "win-win" proposition: nursing students gain skills-based knowledge, which is difficult to acquire in a traditional classroom. It also enables students to give back to the community and its growing elderly population.