By Jimmy Creed
Two groups of University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing students along with several different local organizations recently combined to put on a successful health fair in the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan area suburb communities of Bessemer and Lipscomb.
More than 100 patients in these medically underserved areas received free health screenings such as blood pressure and glucose checks, free toothbrushes, free eye glasses, snacks and consultations and informational pamphlets as part of the health fair.
A total of 54 UAB School of Nursing students and faculty, UAB School of Medicine students and faculty and representatives from community partners The Foundry Rescue Mission and Recovery Center, e3 Medical and Christ City Center Church volunteered their time and efforts to make the event a success.
The health fair, which was conducted at the Christ City Center Church in Lipscomb and the 4th Avenue Supermarket in Bessemer, was a community impact project for fourth-semester UAB School of Nursing students enrolled in the NUR 429L Concepts of Community and Public Health Nursing Practicum and its companion course NUR 428 Concepts of Community and Public Health Nursing.
Instructor Sallie Shipman, EdD, MSN, RN, CNL, who manages the NUR 429L practicum, said it was inspiring to see the two groups combine their resources, talents and energies to provide such a tremendous public service.
“Initially we had the students who work with The Foundry working on a clinic, and we had the students who work with e3 Medical working on a clinic on the same day,” Shipman said. “When we realized that, we decided to combine the two clinical groups so they would make more of an impact on the community.
“When we combined the two groups and got them working together it turned into a phenomenal experience for the patients, the communities and the students.”
Among those volunteering their time that day were UAB School of Nursing faculty Associate Dean of Clinical and Global Partnerships and Professor Cynthia S. Selleck, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN, Instructor Melanie Gibbons Hallman, DNP, CRNP, CEN, FNP-BC, ACNP-BC, who mentors students at e3 Medical, and Instructor Cindy Grimes-Robison, PhD, RN, FNP, who mentors students at The Foundry. Also playing a vital role was Melanie Baucom, DNP, nurse practitioner at the UAB Medical Clinic at The Foundry.
Baucom spent time at both Lipscomb and Bessemer during the day and referred patients who needed further follow up to the UAB Medical Clinic at The Foundry.
“We collaborated our efforts so that we could maximize what we were doing in the community and help the patients realize the services that we have at the UAB Medical Clinic at The Foundry,” Shipman said. “It was so wonderful, and I just felt blessed to be a part of it.”
A prime objective of the NUR 428 course, which is managed by Instructor Laura Debiasi, DNP, MPH, CRNP, NP-C, and the NUR 429L practicum is to educate the School’s students about health disparities, particularly in medically underserved populations. Participating in an event such as this health fair is a valuable learning experience in that regard, Shipman said.
“That is the key to the whole thing,” Shipman said. “It shows the students in real life what health disparities are and what they can do as a nurse to work in the community. And it gives them a real-life opportunity to do so. It is pretty amazing to be a part of it and to see what changes they can make.”
The students who participated were thrilled with the opportunity and the outcome as well.
“The aim of our project was to improve health and health outcomes, and those who attended the clinic expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to learn and actively participate in their own health care,” said Jessica Stillabower, who along with fellow fourth-semester students Tabitha Fulton and Zachery Jones coordinated the proceedings at Lipscomb. “Our team felt that the clinic’s biggest achievement was educating the patients on personal and community health-care needs.”
Fourth-semester students Erin Hoppens, Hunter Dodson and Morgan Jones coordinated the event at the Bessemer location.
“When I first saw that they were both doing projects on the same day at the same time, it scared me to death because I thought, ‘Oh my goodness they are going to step on each other,’” Shipman said. “Then we started realizing that this was an opportunity. When they all started working on a common goal, it was really wonderful to see all the effort between the two groups.
"It was a great experience for our students, and I am really proud of what we were able to do."
UAB School of Nursing students, faculty help those in need at health fair
Combine with community partners for successful events in two medically underserved Birmingham-area suburbs