The power of touch and the crucial importance of connecting with another human being are among lessons learned by Columbia College of Nursing (CCON) students in a community clinical rotation at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care. Founded in 1983 in Milwaukee, St. Ann Center provides comprehensive day services to underserved populations, including children, the elderly, and adults with disabilities.
CCON students work with the center’s children, 6 weeks old to school age, and with adult clients of all ages—all under one roof. Students rotate from working with infants, toddlers and children with disabilities, to spending time in the senior wellness and Alzheimers/dementia units. They learn to view clients holistically, from a community health perspective, as they work in physical therapy and with a nurse practitioner and community health nurses. They also provide Benevolent Touch, a type of nurturing massage, assuring clients they are safe and cared for.
Over the semester-long course, students meet weekly with an assigned client. They are expected to document the client’s health history, conduct a physical assessment, including a genogram, and promote evidence-based healthy behaviors that target acute and chronic health issues. Through this experience, students develop a unique perspective on problems their clients may experience daily—ones able-bodied individuals may not understand. Haley Clark from the class of December 2017 shared, “My experience at St. Ann Center was like no other clinical setting throughout nursing school.” Fellow student Mayra Escoto, said, “I interacted with a Hispanic client who won my heart. When we spoke to each other in our native tongue, it made all the difference in the world.” By developing these relationships, students move beyond statistics and facts and are better prepared to advocate for vulnerable or marginalized populations as they begin their professional nursing careers.