Nurses often gain glimpses into their patients’ lives that go beyond health care. For maternity nurses, that attentiveness is especially important as they prepare to send parents home with their newborns.
When families are struggling financially, the cost of required items for a new baby can be overwhelming. More than 5.2 million children living in low-income households are at risk for serious skin irritations and infections due to families reusing diapers, according to AWHONN, a national organization promoting the health of women and newborns.
Fourth-year College of Nursing students, who are doing their clinicals in a maternity rotation, wanted to help. They joined with AWHONN in their fourth national diaper drive by helping local families in need.
The students collected and donated 1,655 diapers to United Neighbors of Fall River. Executive director Wendy Garf-Lipp spoke to nursing students during the Cardboard Village Project earlier this fall about the needs of homeless and low-income families in the South Coast area and her message left an impact.
Service learning offers hands-on experience in community nursing
“We had been talking about a service-learning element to our clinicals,” said Clinical Assistant Professor Mary Ellen Boisvert, who coordinated the first-time drive at the College of Nursing.
“It was nice to do something for the community outside the hospital,” said Amanda Feno ‘19, who did her clinicals at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Plymouth. She performed mother and baby assessments, helped in the special care nursery, and helped to care for mothers during labor and delivery and before discharge. Some student nurses help new mothers learn to care for their babies before they take them home.
While some of the students in the class hope to land jobs as maternity nurses, Boisvert said they all did extremely well in this rotation. “They embraced the population. As they cared for women of childbearing age, they understood the needs of that population.”
As they reflected on this clinical experience, the students praised the education they are receiving in the College of Nursing.
“It’s a great program,” said Feno. “The faculty are supportive and come up with innovative ways to help you learn. They have taught us how to make a difference and advocate for a population.”
“Service learning has value,” said Boisvert. “It’s an important part of becoming a nurse. It’s not just about getting a job or caring for a patient. The important thing is making a difference.”
Also participating in the diaper drive were seniors Miranda Barrett, Megan Corkery, Krystle DiBona, Paige Miller, and Jessica Read.