Nursing Students Practice Community Education

During a pair of one-hour workshops, Pennsylvania College of Technology nursing students provided a wealth of information to help their audiences – Penn College employees – stay healthy and prevent illness.

The students are enrolled in a Community Health Nursing class, which prepares them for the real-world work of nurses beyond treating already ill patients: They learn to educate communities to help them prevent disease.

Penn College nursing student Rachel E. Farber, of Altoona, measures the blood pressure of librarian Helen L. Yoas at the close of a class offered by nursing students on “Reducing Risks: Understanding Metabolic Syndrome.”

During one workshop, students gave tips for “healthy eating on the go.”

“We wanted to pick something that affects the community as a whole,” said student Marissa N. Herb, of Williamsport. “Pretty much everyone is pressed for time.”

The students offered tips for packing healthy snacks for work and demonstrated a variety of smoothie recipes, educating attendees about the nutritional value of ingredients, including the benefits and drawbacks of cow’s milk, almond milk, rice milk and soy milk.

“As future nurses with bachelor’s degrees, we decided on primary prevention for our project. … We know how eating healthy affects the body in the long run, and keeping this in mind, we needed to convey this knowledge to our audience in a way that seemed easy and fun,” said Tiffany L. Bertothy, a student from Phillipsburg.

During another session, students educated employees about metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that raise the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other health problems. Those with three of five conditions are considered to have metabolic syndrome. Those conditions are high blood glucose, low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, obesity and high blood pressure.

The students discussed the problems that can arise from each of the conditions and offered steps to prevent or mediate them.

Because metabolic syndrome is so widespread – about 34 percent of adult Americans have it – the students felt it was important to provide the information.

“One of the primary killers in the U.S. is heart disease,” said student John M. Matthews, of Boalsburg, who noted that it is easier to control the risk of heart disease and stroke than to recover in the aftermath of such health emergencies.

The students also offered screenings to help participants gauge their health, measuring blood sugar, body fat, waist circumference and blood pressure.

The workshops were offered through the college’s Wellness Committee.

“We were thrilled to provide health education presentations to Penn College faculty and staff about nutrition on the go and metabolic syndrome,” Matthews said. “One of the primary roles of nursing is patient education, and the experience challenged us to practice our skills educating clients about healthy lifestyle choices to improve health outcomes.”

“This class has taught us how important teaching our clients is as well as making sure they understand the education provided,” Bertothy said. “In preparing us for our futures as nurses, this class has taught us to look at communities as a whole and not just the individuals within the community.”

Penn College offers bachelor’s and associate degrees in nursing, with an online option for registered nurses who wish to complete their bachelor’s degree. To learn more, call 570-327-4525, email or visit the School of Health Sciences.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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