Nursing students from Sampson Community College are not stuck in a classroom all day. Thanks to a grant, nursing students are able to visit several farms across the area and provide health and wellness checks to farmworkers in our local communities.
The program is Farmworkers Health or Farmworkers Outreach. The North Carolina Area Health Education Center awards grants to nursing schools to develop new clinical settings and experiences where there are areas of special need in rural and underserved areas. The SCC nursing program has chosen to work in conjunction with NC Farmworker Health Project due to farmworkers being a large group in our community that is underserved and are in great need of health education. Farm labor is included in the top three most dangerous occupations in the nation.
Farmworkers are at a greater risk for experiencing occupational skin disease, workplace injuries, pesticide exposure, infectious diseases, mental health issues, hypertension, obesity and diabetes. Limited access to health care compounds their health care issues. Additionally, these workers face challenges secondary to language, transportation, cost, childcare and work schedules.
“So far, we have served hundreds of farmworkers,” says Dr. Veronica Stevens, Division Chair of Health Programs at the college. “Our nursing students are engaged in farm worker health on local rural area crop farms. They receive quality experiences as they interact with the targeted population. Students provide health screenings and education based on the primary and secondary indicators listed by the North Carolina Farmworker Health Program. These include but are not limited to: heat illness, crop-related illness, pesticide exposure, sexually transmitted diseases, oral health, information about clinic services, domestic violence, diabetes, emotional health, immunizations, family planning and motor vehicle safety.”
Students perform height and weight checks, blood pressure screenings and blood sugar screenings as well as educate groups on topics which they are at most risk. If there are any abnormal assessment findings, the members of the NC Farmworkers health project are present and they can schedule appointments or have clinic groups go to certain camps.
Yire B. Hernandez, the SCC nursing instructor who administers the program for the college, says it is important not to underestimate its importance. Yire has always been active in working with the migrant population, and recognizes the value of this experience.
“Working with this population offers a learning opportunity that students do not receive in a hospital or classroom setting. It allows them to see another aspect of public health and allows them a chance to use some of the skills they have developed in nursing school.”
Farmworkers have many barriers that prevent them from obtaining the care they need. Students are serving Harnett, Johnston, Sampson and Duplin counties. This summer, we have gone to Farmworker camps in Benson, Angier, Clinton, Newton Grove, Four Oaks, and Faison. Students also participated in health screenings on a medical mobile unit sponsored by the Eastern Baptist Association.
For more information about the Nursing program at SCC, contact Dr. Veronica Stevens at [email protected]