239865 Desert sands to mountain snow: Nursing students' partnership with Eritrean refugees

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ann G. Hershberger, PhD, RN , Department of Nursing, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA
Background and Issues: 80,000 refugees arrive in the U.S each year needing health care access and health promotion alongside basic needs. These newcomers expand the nation's diversity that increasingly challenges nursing students to develop cultural competence. These two needs converge in a program to pair BSN students with Eritrean refugee families for mutual benefit. Description: Nursing students in a Family Nursing course are assigned to an Eritrean refugee family for a semester. Students complete an assessment and plan of care in the context of developing a partnership with the family. Interventions range from teaching children how to use mittens and hats during winter snows to accessing evaluation and treatment for a lifelong hearing impairment. Home visits provide students with the opportunity to experience cultural traditions and to learn case management. Lessons learned: Eritrean families express gratefulness for increased connections to their new culture and improved access to resources. Students report increased flexibility and patience; they develop empathy and deepen their understanding of the health care system. Health care providers are eager for tools to providing appropriate care for newcomers. Challenges include defining nurse/patient boundaries in the face of overwhelming needs (i.e. transportation); and translation with few Tigrinya/English speakers in the community. Recommendations: Significant partnerships can be developed with Refugee Resettlement offices, local churches who work with refugee families, Public Health Departments, and local primary care settings to meet students' need to increase cultural competence and to increase access to care and health promotion for refugee families.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related education
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the history and current situation of Eritrean refugees in the United States. 2. Explain multiple goals for partnering nursing students with Eritrean refugee families. 3. Assess benefits of the student/immigrant partnership for families, students, and the local health care agencies. 4. Formulate ideas for deeper community partnerships to meet refugee needs.

Keywords: Nursing Education, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a senior faculty member teaching family and community courses for over 20 years. In addition I have focused on international heath issues in parallel consulting work.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.