Providing health education to teens can often be tricky, but it’s also a great learning experience. Not only does it help fulfill the mission at LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing to provide excellent nursing education, but it also brings care to underserved parts of the community.
“We teach the kids that when it comes to getting care, they are the customer and can choose who they want as their provider. Helping them understand their bodies and knowing what questions to ask makes them feel empowered.”
Ellen Beyer, DNP, MBA, PHCNS-BC, APRN
Organized by the School of Nursing’s chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, nursing students have been visiting Boys Hope Girls Hope for several years now. This international organization helping at-risk youth operates in 16 cities throughout the U.S. and Latin America, including New Orleans. Offering children a top-tier education and other support systems, and providing many a home, the nonprofit seeks to empower kids and teens, helping them overcome adversity and realize their potential. Helping to achieve this goal, the nursing students visit at least once per year to discuss a variety of health education topics with the staff and children.
This year, two nursing students went to Boys Hope and spent time teaching the teens who live in the home about sexual health. At Girls Hope, three other students provided general health education and spoke with the staff about caring for children with diabetes, since one of the girls in the program is a diabetic.
“We try to be responsive to the needs of the kids and the staff,” says Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing Ellen Beyer, DNP, MBA, PHCNS-BC, APRN, who supervised the Girls Hope trip. “We will talk about whatever health topics they ask us to.”
Learning By Teaching
The kids ask a lot of great questions, says Dr. Beyer, and it gives the students the opportunity to share their knowledge and be the experts. “We teach the kids that when it comes to getting care, they are the customer and can choose who they want as their provider. Helping them understand their bodies and knowing what questions to ask makes them feel empowered,” she says.
The visits are a learning experience for the nursing students as well as the children, and are about more than just health education. Armed with snacks and crafts, the nursing students spend time talking with the kids and engaging them in a variety of activities. “Our students are only a few years older than the kids, so the kids really relate to them and look up to them as role models,” says Dr. Beyer. “It definitely helps remind our students why they decided to become nurses. And we’ve had a couple of the children express interest in becoming nurses too.”