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Delivering classroom learnings and care to the community | Health

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Delivering classroom learnings and care to the community
Delivering classroom learnings and care to the community


By Kaiser Permanente

Some Kaiser Permanente registered nurses are working to advance their training, skills, and education. In the process, they are also sharing their knowledge and helping to improve lives in the community.

Some 250 Kaiser Permanente RNs across Northern California are in a program called the Nurse Scholars Academy, launched in 2015 by Kaiser Permanente as part of a broad professional development initiative.

Course work for those in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at Samuel Merritt University (SMU) has some of those nursing scholars participating in a number of different projects and initiatives.

Eleven of the RN to BSN scholars are part of a pioneering public health project called the “Community Nurse Corps.” Recently, some of them participated in a health fair in the Twin Rivers housing project, located in Sacramento’s Promise Zone. The Promise Zone is a corridor of impoverished neighborhoods that benefit from a partnership between federal, state, and local agencies to improve the quality of life of residents.

For the nurses taking part, their role is  is to help educate residents on important health issues.

“A lot of patients are not aware of [concerns around] blood pressure, stroke risk, diabetes, and healthy eating. One thing we are showing them is how to eat healthy on a budget,” said Olga Bodnar, RN, who works in the post-anesthesia care unit at Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center. She has been a nurse for 14 years and is a member of the Community Nurse Corps.

Sara Purdy, RN, a medical-surgical nurse at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, noted that residents in neighborhoods like the Twin Rivers housing area face a number of challenges, including a lack of access to healthy food and transportation.

“For me, nursing is helping people – providing care, knowledge, providing support, and nurturing,” said Purdy, who takes part in a weekly resident walking group. “We are trying to spread the message that we are here to help, if you have questions, please ask. They are now recognizing that there are nurses here.”

Jeanne Steer, RN, who is a post-anesthesia care unit nurse at Roseville Medical Center, agreed on the need for community education.

“A lot of the residents here face diabetes, obesity, and a risk for heart disease. We put on this health fair to help them take better care of themselves,” said Steer. “I always wanted to be a nurse. I love working with people. I love hearing their stories. I like to help them get better and feel a sense of well-being.”

Bodnar says her work in the community is helping to improve her work in the hospital with patients.

“Being in the acute-care setting, you don’t often see the full picture. Perhaps a patient is not complying with his medication and that’s why they are there. But being out here, we have a better understanding. Perhaps they can’t afford [their medications], maybe teaching needs to be done. I didn’t realize how much the community needed this, and that’s why public health nurses are there,” said Bodnar.

That is precisely what a different group of RN to BSN nurse scholars were hoping to share with their peers back in the hospitals and the clinics. Recently, five Kaiser Permanente nurses presented research about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) to the South Sacramento Home Health team. They hoped the information they shared would help to change perceptions in patient care.

“We were excited to learn about ACEs to see how things fit together,” said Clinton Bailey, RN, who works in the South Sacramento Medical Center. “Learning about ACEs helped me to reframe where [patients] are coming from.”

They shared the importance of taking a broad context view of patients and their lives, and also conveyed the importance of empathy.

Matt Elliott, RN, from the Intensive Care Unit at South Sacramento, shared a phrase he uses when talking to some patients.

“I will say ‘I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling’ and right there, that simple phrase can change the whole dynamic,” said Elliott.

The RN to BSN is a two-year program. Generous scholarships and financial aid solutions are available to qualified applicants through Samuel Merritt University. For more information, visit https://nursescholars.kaiserpermanente.org/bachelor-science-nursing, and https://nursescholars.kaiserpermanente.org/rn-bsn-program-frequently-asked-questions.