On a cool Saturday morning with the sun just rising in the distance, a group of Fresno State students are setting up tables and chairs in a large parking lot just behind the Fresno Fairgrounds. Just behind them is the Community Health Mobile Unit – a large, traveling RV equipped with two exam rooms and medical equipment. For the next seven hours, the students will be providing nearby community members with free health screenings.
Since last fall, the Fresno State California Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA) have been using the mobile unit to offset their project – Health On Wheels, which is cross-disciplinary, collaborative effort between nursing students in the club and other allied health majors on campus, including sports medicine and athletic training students and the Fresno State Diabetes Coalition.
On average, the students serve 100 clients for each stop, which goes out at least three times a semester. The mobile unit itself sees nearly 1,000 unique clients a semester. Some of the free health services offered through the mobile unit include physicals, blood pressure screenings, cholesterol testing, diabetes screening, flu shots and referrals – as well as health education.
Courtney Brown, a fifth semester nursing student and president of the CNSA, said the collaboration with her peers gives them necessary experience in the field.
“These types of events are truly win-win for the students and for the community,” Brown said. “Students have the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom or hospital settings, and are able to hone skills of therapeutic communication, direct patient care, and delve into all things community health.”
Over 170 nursing students, ranging from first to sixth semester, are involved in the CNSA, which is constituent of the National Student Nurses’ Association. The chapter is committed to seeking educational, developmental, and professional growth in today’s health.
As president of CNSA, Brown leads the club and its members in providing nursing and pre-nursing students with opportunities that will make them better nurses, as well as encourage involvement at the local, state and national levels.
“CNSA Fresno State seeks to optimize student exposure to the diversity existing within nursing and establish communication between its members, non-members, faculty advisors, and the community,” Brown said.
By hosting fundraisers and donation drives, the club has made it their mission to spread knowledge about nursing, but they also strive to give back to the communities they serve. Earlier this month, the club spearheaded the ‘Help the Homeless Project’ – a collective effort with CNSA, the Fresno State Diabetes Coalition and the Fresno State Pre-Med Club.
“We plan to serve nearly 50-80 of our local homeless with items ranging from personal hygiene products, nonperishable food items to socks, gently used blankets and warm clothing,” Brown said.
Club members will distribute the items to those residing near the Poverello House.
The generous nature of the club is not just limited to the holidays. Each semester the students volunteer at various events in the community and on campus, offering service ranging from blood pressure screenings to flu shots to health education.
The club believe the prevention of illnesses through health education is essential.
“We empower our community at large to increase their health literary, make healthy lifestyle changes and to have autonomy in their personal health care, all while allowing students to provide high quality, culturally-aware care,” Brown said. “By visiting our communities, we as nursing students, can break through the socioeconomic disparities and access to care.”
Up next for the club is their annual RN Bootcamp, which takes place at the beginning of each semester. On Jan. 12 and 13, they will welcome the newest cohort of nursing students with a crash course in basic nursing skills and also give them an insider’s look at what the School of Nursing has to offer.
Club members, Brown, Jennifer Cushing and Navrattan Kaur are also gearing up for the National Student Nurses’ Association convention in April, where they will present their resolution on “increasing awareness and education of breast self-examination in ethnic minority women”.
-Written by Rebeca Flores, CHHS communication student assistant. All photos courtesy of CNSA.