On March 17, the University of Arizona College of Nursing hosted 30 fifth graders from Anna Lawrence Intermediate School for an engaging session of learning and fun. This was achieved thanks to the planning and coordination of UArizona Native American Initiative Office and the collaboration of UArizona Health Sciences colleges. Assistant Clinical Professor Timian Godfrey, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, and José Muñoz, Ed.D, UArizona Nursing's Senior Professional, Diversity Equity and Inclusion jumped on this opportunity after Dr. Godfrey received feedback at a conference asking for more community involvement from UArizona College of Nursing.
“It really got us thinking about what we’re doing across our community in terms of getting involved in K-12 outreach,” Dr. Munoz says. “We want to educate and inspire our future students about what the nursing field has to offer and introduce them to the many possibilities that are available in this profession.”
The event was success and are planning on doing more outreach and engagement within our community and would ideally like to do something were UArizona Nursing will engage in every semester.
What kinds of activities did the students engage in?
Each Health Sciences college had its own activities. Here within the College of Nursing, we had five activities. They got to put on gowns and gloves and take pictures in front of the nursing backdrop. They had hands-on experience with the baby mannequins, learning how to put a diaper on and how to swaddle the baby. They also got to learn how to use a stethoscope, which the students got to keep. We had an eye exam station, which was a lot of fun. They also received a tour of the Steele Innovative Learning Center (SILC), where they learned from nursing students from our Community Health class how to become a nurse that goes above and beyond.
What kinds of reactions did you see from the students?
They loved each activity! It was really cool to see the students putting on gowns and gloves. They were so into it, maybe because they got to see the possibilities of what it might feel like to be a nurse. Our nursing students did an amazing job of facilitating these activities and without them, these activities wouldn’t have been a possibility.
What was your biggest takeaway from this event?
The importance of community engagement and of outreach in nursing education, which plays a critical role in how we address the nursing workforce shortage. Although these are fifth graders, we can continue to inspire future generations about this profession. It’s so important for us to work with local communities and help them see themselves inside spaces like UArizona Nursing. It’s a small step toward a common goal, which is to create different pathways and access to education at our college.
You do many events with college-age and high-school students. What was it like working with a much younger audience?
I was reminded of how much energy these fifth graders have. They have so many questions! They’re in an age of exploration, so they really want to try everything. It’s a reminder of how important it is to start early as far as building those pathways and exposing them to opportunities like this.
What’s most important about doing this kind of work in the community?
As we look toward the future of health care, it’s increasingly clear to me that we need a more diverse and inclusive nursing workforce to meet the needs of our diverse communities. By partnering with local schools and community organizations, we can introduce young people to the many pathways and opportunities available within the nursing and healthcare professions.
As a college, and as part of UArizona Health Sciences, we need to collaborate to break down barriers and mental models that may be preventing some of these students from pursuing these careers. Inviting them to our campuses to see themselves in these roles is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to building the future nursing workforce that we desperately need. It’s important that we engage with young people and inspire them to pursue nursing as a career because we can help create a brighter future for both the nursing profession and the communities that we serve. Together we can make a real difference in the lives of these young people and the future of healthcare.