Down on the Farm: Lessons Learned in Public Health
Several College of Nursing students who are enrolled in Community and Public Health Nursing Practicum recently presented on a community action project about rural health and safety on Iowa’s farms. These BSN students, all seniors preparing to graduate in December, are:
- Molly Kordick (West Liberty)
- Regina Belcastro (Chicago)
- Amelia Fleming (Iowa City)
- Leah Nichols (Dorchester)
“I became interested in public health nursing this semester when I learned just how big of an impact nurses have on numerous public health issues,” explained Belcastro. “Nurses can really make a difference and I believe it is our duty to do so.”
In addition to visiting local farms, the students interviewed safety experts and were surprised to learn the vast array of safety issues faced by today’s farmers. From sharp, rotating parts on machinery to tractor rollovers, there’s no shortage of hazards. Their research also revealed that many farmers perform their own maintenance on their machinery, and many work alone, increasing the significance of rural health and safety advocacy.
“This community/public health practicum has been very enlightening. Our project on farm safety—learning about a population in our community and what their health hazards are—has really been a lot of fun,” said Nichols. “It’s really interesting how we’ve been able to tailor the goals and directions of our community action project to our own ideas and nursing interests.”
Professor Susan Lehmann, MSN, RN, who teaches this practicum, is thrilled with the students’ enthusiasm and quest for public health knowledge.
“I am very proud of my students. They are exploring the culture of farming and rural life from the professional nursing perspective,” added Lehmann. “They are developing literacy and culturally appropriate educational materials and activities, which will hopefully improve health and safety outcomes on farms across the region.”
“This class has really opened my eyes to the issues that public health nurses tackle every day,” noted Kordick.
The student’s action project will be completed the second half of the semester in conjunction with the Rural Health and Safety Clinic of Greater Johnson County. Notably, the clinic is directed by Shalome Tonelli, who is a college alumna (BSN ’04) and current PhD candidate.
“I have become very interested in public health as a result of this class/practicum, and also because of the recent Ebola epidemic,” said Fleming. “The work that public health workers do for this is fascinating and hugely necessary. I could definitely see myself becoming more interested in public health nursing as I jump into my career.”
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