KCON, MomsBloom partner on pilot program to give students experiential learning opportunities

Through a partnership with a nonprofit organization, Kirkhof College of Nursing students are gaining experience caring for newborns as well as mothers and families.

This is the second semester KCON has partnered with MomsBloom, a Grand Rapids-based organization dedicated to matching volunteers to families with newborns to provide in-person postpartum support.

Kelli Damstra, associate professor of nursing, arranged the community health rotation last winter semester. Damstra said KCON students learn about maternal child health, including obstetrics and postpartum care, in the classroom, lab and clinical settings during the same semester they have this community health rotation.

"This is a great fit for our students, to be able to get into homes and help new moms and their families," Damstra said.

Kassandra Schuling holds a newborn
Kassandra Schuling holds a newborn baby during a community health rotation as a KCON student.
courtesy photo
Nora Krusinski colors with a sibling of a newborn during a community health rotation as a nursing major.
Nora Krusinski colors with a sibling of a newborn during a community health rotation as a nursing major.
courtesy photo

After a screening and training with MomsBloom, pairs of students are matched with a family for weekly visits. Damstra said during visits, students help care for the baby or siblings, sometimes perform light housekeeping chores, anything that allows the mom to get needed self-care time.

"A big piece of this partnership is having the students provide education and support to families, and connecting moms to resources in the community," Damstra said. "The students are getting experience in community health nursing, and they are experiencing the reality of what life is like with a newborn."

Kimber Wager, program director for MomsBloom, said she has received positive feedback from clients who are matched with KCON students.

"Our families have really enjoyed having the students come into their homes; they appreciate the help and their knowledge," Wager said. "It is hard to reach out for help and support from your community, but MomsBloom believes that no one is meant to go on their parenting journey alone." 

At its 2020 award ceremony, MomsBloom awarded KCON its Organization/Business of the Year award.