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In tune with the community

Queen's University nursing students gain valuable experience while working with different organizations and groups.

[NURS 405 programs]
Students from the School of Nursing's NURS 405 course worked with university and community groups on a wide range of topics including food security, physical activity, healthy eating, and mental health. 

Becoming a well-rounded student to prepare for life after graduation often involves working in the community. The NURS 405 course in the Queen’s University School of Nursing provides a unique town-gown opportunity for fourth-year nursing students.

As part of their clinical placement, the students work with community organizations on projects that focus on a wide range of topics including food security, physical activity, healthy eating, and mental health. This year, two of the projects featured students working with Kingston Housing and the Office of the Provost.

“There is a lot of critical thinking included with these projects,” says School of Nursing Professor Deborah Tregunno. “The students often go into these assignments thinking they know what’s best for their community clients. But this is very much a learning experience on both sides, which is critical to their development in nursing.”

Meagan Franchetto and Jillian Koskins worked with the Frontenac Housing Corporation’s tenants on developing resources focusing on food insecurity and nutrition, including shopping for food, food labels, food storage and preparation. On a weekly basis, both students interacted with the tenants and Franchetto says it was moving to positively influence the daily lives of her clients.

“It was easy to assume we would go in and know exactly what to do because of our training,” she says. “That wasn’t the case at all. We really took the opportunity to get to know our clients and built the programming around their exact needs. It was eye opening.”

Sarah Gelmych and Courtney Gallant took on the challenge of enhancing the university’s Swipe It Forward program. The pilot program was designed to combat food insecurity on campus through the donation of meals from students with meal plans.

“Many people on the Queen's campus are unaware that students are facing food insecurity issues,” says Gallant. “The Swipe it Forward program is a way to help and our job was to raise the profile of the program within the student population but also with the faculty and staff.”

Gelmych says 39 per cent of post-secondary students in Canada face some type of food insecurity which essentially means there are barriers to the student eating properly on a daily basis. With the program, students can donate up to five meals per semester and a new poster campaign, designed by Gelmych and Gallant, should help raise the profile of the program on campus.

They also created a new website Food For You which provides links to programs on campus.

“We are teaching the students to communicate with all populations – the NURS 405 course lets them step outside the ‘Queen’s bubble’ and work in the community,” says School of Nursing instructor Denise Neumann-Fuhr. “The community organizations reap the benefits but so do our students.”