Messenger - Vol. 2, No. 1, Page 10
Fall 1992
Nursing students move class into city neighborhoods

      Because of the high cost of hospital stays, health care is becoming
more home- and community-centered.
      To familiarize nursing students with working in a neighborhood
setting, Evelyn Hayes and Linda Matocha, both associate professors of
nursing, have used community centers to meet clinical criteria in a course,
"Determinants of Wellness," offered to first-semester juniors in the
College of Nursing.
      The students are assigned to neighborhood centers in the area, mostly
in Wilmington, Del., such as the Latin American Community Center, the West
Side Neighborhood House, Peoples Settlement and Edgemoor and Rosehill
Community Centers.
      In groups of about 10 for each location, the students tour the center
and get acquainted with different groups of residents who use the facility,
from children to seniors.
      They also get a feeling for the neighborhood, by walking around the
area, assessing police and fire protection, the condition of streets,
sidewalks and lighting, looking at schools and libraries. They visit the
local ethnic and neighborhood stores, and then make maps and reports of
what they discover.
      "Many of our students have never been in city neighborhoods or been
involved with different ethnic groups. As they become involved with people
in the community centers, what they learn is that we all share common
concerns and are more alike than we are different," Matocha says.
      An important part of the course is working with residents on wellness
programs. With a faculty member, students select an age group to work with
on health issues and then they develop a program.
      For example, for pre-teens and teenagers, the students may present
programs on sex, smoking, drugs and alcohol. For seniors, nutrition,
exercise and hygiene are addressed. Stress reduction is a topic for those
in their middle years.
      Wellness training involves hands-on practice as well. As an example,
students in succeeding semesters learn to monitor blood pressure for older
adults or help assess school-aged children's hearing and vision. In
day-care centers, students work with pre-schoolers to assess developmental
levels. They also provide nursing care in clinics and nursing homes.
      Another clinical experience includes home care, where nursing
students accompany a nurse on his or her rounds, and they may help change
dressings, weigh a new infant or talk to a new mother who may have a drug
      The test of the program is in its acceptance. "When the directors of
the neighborhood centers were first approached, they were somewhat leery.
But now they are calling up and are eager to have the program return,"
Matocha says.
                                   --Sue Swyers Moncure