Historically, nurses have always volunteered to serve during times of crisis—often traveling to wherever they were needed the most. Much in the same way, many students in the St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences Nursing Program are also answering the call to serve—volunteering to travel to rural villages to work at mobile testing and vaccination clinics islandwide.
Working closely with Grenada’s Ministry of Health, the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences within SAS, and in collaboration with the Student Government Association, has become the official liaison to the MOH—playing an integral role in the organization, planning, and gathering of SGU student volunteers to work at various pop-up clinics.
“I made the decision to volunteer for two reasons—my strong desire to help provide much-needed assistance to my future colleagues, and my love for this noble profession,” stated Shawndy Duncan, a third-year nursing student at SGU. “During my experience in the field, we did encounter many that were skeptical about taking the vaccine. However, we took the time to explain the benefits and why it was so important to get vaccinated now more than ever. I believe that what we’re doing here will have a positive impact on the Grenadian public.”
For the past several weeks, nearly half of the department’s 110 students has volunteered during the government’s current restriction of movements on the weekends. At the MOH’s request, SGU nursing students have been serving at healthcare clinics, mobile vaccination sites, and homes for the elderly.
“As an aspiring nurse, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer my services,” said second-year nursing student Casira Peters. “I was happy to go wherever I was needed. I wanted to help in any way I could to ensure that Grenadians got the proper support they required. Volunteering allows me to not only work alongside dedicated healthcare professionals, but it also enables me to develop my communication and practical skills. And even though I’m not a licensed nurse yet, I’m getting valuable experience to make me an even better one.”
In addition to assisting physicians with administering COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, and providing results and educational material, the student volunteers have also been functioning as clinic nurses, applying wound dressings, and performing blood sugar checks—working more days and longer hours, often side by side with members of their own communities.
“Nursing student volunteers have the unique opportunity to practice both their science and art,” said Dr. Jennifer Solomon, chair and director of the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, SGU. “Engaging in hands-on learning in the field, may arguably make them even better nurses. Additionally, volunteering brings benefits not only to the people being helped, but also to the volunteers themselves, such as improving self-esteem, increasing confidence, and providing a sense of purpose. It fills me with pride as the Grenadian people get to see how the SGU nursing program is community and locally centered. I am humbled by our students as they continue to selflessly volunteer in their home communities.”
St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences Nursing Program features many aspects of interdisciplinary learning and teaching. Uniquely structured, it allows the students to be taught by professors from both the Schools of Medicine and Arts and Sciences, as well as visiting professors from outside of Grenada. Their training experience will include working at the General Hospital, lab work at SGU’s Simulation Center, and community work. At the end of their training and with the completion of their regional and international licensing exams, the students will become fully fledged registered nurses as approved by the Caribbean Nursing Council.
— Ray-Donna Peters
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