“It is helping them to see their … future role as a registered nurse, how they can use this to help others,” said the associate professor of nursing. “It’s the essence of altruism.”
This service learning component is a part of Lancaster’s Community Public Health Nursing course, which she has taught since 2018. This semester, nine students will prepare and serve food at the mission on Feb. 12, followed by six students on Feb. 26, seven students on Feb. 27 and seven students on April 9.
Lancaster said a typical day begins at 9 a.m. with a tour to acquaint them with the mission’s plans and goals. The kitchen work begins around 10 a.m.
“They may be back there cutting up potatoes,” Lancaster said. “They may be back there washing apples, you know, whatever is needed.”
The volunteers serve lunch beginning around noon, and, after some interaction with the residents, they participate in the clean-up, leaving at around 1:30 or 2 p.m.
“I can really tell when a student has understood it, when they say that it has been a life-changing experience for them, that they realize that nursing isn’t just about heart monitors and injections and things like that, but it’s about reaching people where they are,” Lancaster said.
All students must write reflection papers about their volunteerism. Some students initially are afraid to enter the mission, not knowing what they might encounter. However, Lancaster said they usually find that it takes their minds off themselves and prompts them to think about other people.
She remembered a particular reflection paper in which a student said, “I left the experience understanding that nurses are the guardians of the community.”
For more information, contact Lancaster at 615-494-8488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Gina K. Logue (email@example.com)