KCON students learn nursing in the community

Nursing students and members of the United Methodist Community House stand by a garden that the students planted at the center.
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Nursing students and members of the United Methodist Community House stand by a garden that the students planted at the center.
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Nursing students enrolled in a "Care of the Adult Patient and Older Adult Patient" course are teaching senior citizens computer classes, planting gardens and helping their clients plan a dance.

In other words, duties not usually associated with nursing.

“They’re learning how to nurse in a variety of community settings,” said Brenda Hoss, faculty member in the Kirkhof College of Nursing.

Students in the course are divided into teams of eight and spread throughout Grand Rapids. Hoss’ service learning group is working at United Methodist Community House; other sites involved include Kent County Health Department, Mount Mercy Senior Apartments, The Other Way Ministries, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, and GVSU Family Health Center.

Student Kaitlin Willett said she has enjoyed her time with seniors at the United Methodist Community House, and enjoyed a change from traditional nursing courses.

“This is a different focus on healing outside the medical setting,” Willett said.

The senior citizens met with students before they dug and planted the garden outside the Sheldon Street center. They asked for okra, eggplant and beets, and other vegetables.

“With the garden, we’re keeping the seniors stimulated,” Hoss said. “We’re giving them a reason to come outdoors. They’re reminiscing about the gardens they used to plant and giving us advice.”

Money to plant the garden came from KCON’s Student Nurses Association.

In late June, the Community House will host a senior prom, complete with dinner, with help from KCON students.