This post is written by guest writer and MEPN student, Matt Finley
“Give me your tired, your poor….” These iconic words have been the promise of hope that has brought immigrants to America for over 200 years. Just a few miles south of San Diego’s thriving downtown, a group of people waits for that promise to be fulfilled. They have made the best of their cramped living spaces and inadequate running water, but the stress of the ordeal is written all over their faces. Their living conditions have made them more susceptible to lice, scabies, and other diseases. Yet they drive on for the hope of a better future.
Several students and faculty from the Hahn School of Nursing (HSON) spent some time with these resilient people at the Embajadores de Jesus Refugee shelter. Working in collaboration with the Refugee Health Alliance (RFA), HSON students and faculty provided care at the shelter.
The HSON volunteers primarily provided nursing care with lice screenings and treatment. The students and faculty spent time getting to know the strong members of this community while providing treatment. Amazingly despite the living conditions, not one person complained. Instead, they offered to feed our group and share what little they had. It was both heartbreaking and encouraging to see that despite their condition, they still choose to be generous. We were thankful we were able restore basic comfort to over 35 children and several adults. However, as we rode away down the washed-out dirt road, we knew the work here is just beginning.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the 18th year in a row, Americans rate the honesty and ethics of nurses highest among a list of professions that Gallup asks U.S. adults to assess annually. Currently, 85% of Americans say nurses’ honesty and ethical standards are “very high” or “high,” essentially unchanged from the 84% who said the same in 2018. Alternatively, Americans hold car salespeople in the lowest esteem, with 9% saying individuals in this field have high levels of ethics and honesty, similar to the 8% who said the same in 2018.Nurses Still Rate Highest for Honesty and Ethics
This post is written by guest writer and MEPN student, Ryan Adames
As the Hahn School of Nursing (HSON) continues to conduct volunteer medical trips in Tijuana, the program is pursuing a new partnership with Refugee Health Alliance (RHA). RHA has been leading volunteer trips into Mexico’s migrant shelters since November 2018. RHA organizes physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and translators to provide medical screenings, pharmaceutical therapies, and referrals to local Tijuana clinics and labs for needed treatment. In addition, the program looks to raise monetary or item donations of food, clothing, basic medical equipment and medication.
We, the HSON, are currently working with RHA at one clinical site in the refugee shelter of Embajadores de Jesus. We are seeing a myriad of health issues just at this one site alone. There are complications from previous trauma or surgeries, issues related to prenatal care, and illnesses due to overcrowding such as rashes, cold and flu-like symptoms, and lice. On this past trip we had 6 student nurses with 2 clinical faculty providing intake, assessment, and triage as each person was prepared to be seen by the medical staff. In addition to this we provided lice screening, treatment, and education. We even had a bit of time to play and color with some of the children.
It has been a busy couple of weeks for first year MEPN students. Having recently learned, in the lab, how to administer intramuscular injections students had an opportunity to practice their new skills by administering Flu shots to USD students, faculty, and staff. Over the course of only a couple of weeks, MEPN students gave over 600 Flu shots!
Way to go MEPNs. Thank you for keeping the USD community healthy.
This post is written by guest writer, and 2nd year MEPN Jessica Erickson
USD Hahn School of Nursing continues to expand its footprint throughout Tijuana, Mexico. The Mulvaney Center, USD’s connection for community engagement and social action, led us beyond the border to Ambassadors of Jesus, a shelter for migrants hoping to seek asylum, safety, and stability in America.
The Migrant Protection Protocol, put in place by the Federal government, frequently referred to as “Remain in Mexico”, was implemented in January 2019. This policy returns asylum seekers arriving at ports of entry on the US-Mexico border back to Mexico to wait there for the duration of their US immigration processing; and thus, Ambassadors of Jesus was born. The US Department of Homeland Security states Mexico will provide this vulnerable population with appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay. However, our eyes were opened to the reality of what this promised protection truly looks like from the perspective of the asylum seeker.
Ambassadors of Jesus is a humble space currently housing over 200 individuals from various countries throughout South America, along with 30 adults and 5 children from Haiti. There are two structures separated between the South American and Haitian populations with an evident racial divide. This gap is only bridged when medical relief is present at the facility. Upon first glance, a sea of tents chaotically fills up the main room. Bunk beds are stacked against a wall for child use only. There is running water, bathroom facilities and a kitchen. No privacy is offered. There are few toys and children’s books available, but only in English or Spanish. Everyone seems to stay inside.
With close proximity comes easy spread of disease. Lice, scabies, and other communicable diseases were breeding throughout the population at this shelter. There is an alarming need for health education. Therefore, 15 MEPN students ran an interactive health fair that consisted of dental hygiene, hand hygiene, personal hygiene, and lice screenings with treatment. First year MEPNs ingeniously used corn on the cob and coffee grounds to depict dirty teeth that require daily brushing. Students acted out when to wash your hands, and the children followed suit with laughter. Families lined up for lice screenings and treatment, turning the opportunity into a communal game of who could pick out the most amount of lice first. After families went through each station, they received a goodie bag containing basic hygiene products the shelter does not provide. Medical relief was offered that day, but only because it was Saturday. The volunteer medical services consisted of 7 doctors, each with a specific specialty ranging from pediatrics to infectious disease. MEPN students assisted with patient intake and assessment.
First year MEPNs Rachel Hammersley and Kimberly Woolery performing lice treatments.
One guest consented to me telling her perspective, and encourages it to be heard. After what felt like rejection from America, she said that she had no other option but to come to this center. Her current length of stay at Ambassadors of Jesus is longer than anticipated, but she is grateful that she is safer than she was in her home country. At first, she felt uncomfortable living in an open space with strangers. Luckily, there is safety in numbers, and the neighboring community is one of welcoming unity.
This guest explained that the resources of this center are given from the surrounding, Mexican community members. It is the community that actually sees, hears, and acknowledges the needs of these asylum seekers. Neighbor is helping neighbor seek security and ensure protection of human rights, instead of either Mexico or US government systems. This community spreads awareness, shows support and empowers across cultures, demonstrating how change is possible and can be sustainable. What a lesson we learned that day. This guest pleaded that we follow suit with our own neighboring asylum seekers in the US because they too need our advocacy.
A message of hope at Jewish Family Services.
Community-based care is demonstrated on our side of the border as well. My community clinical at Jewish Family Services (JFS), part of the San Diego Rapid Response Network, offers services to asylum seeking families in San Diego. JFS reflects the important work of Ambassadors of Jesus, and is also functioning off of outside resources. The site speaks for the marginalized, spreading awareness about the need for meeting human rights with justice. Yet, as JFS rises to lift others up, it falls with lack of support from our community and government. At JFS, we have learned our main role as nursing students is to ensure that no one stands alone in our community. As nurses, we are advocates for the people. We have a duty to treat our patients as a whole person first. No matter our race, religion, political affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status, nursing takes us to a level of humanization for each individual we cross paths with. Ambassadors of Jesus and JFS embody this perspective: for the people.
We ended the journey across the border at a taco shop. With full stomachs and happy hearts, we unpacked the highs and lows of the day. Our team encouraged one another on what was done well, and what steps could be taken toward areas of improvement for the benefit of the Ambassadors of Jesus community in the future. These trips continue to mold our time management and critical thinking skills, creativity, teaching abilities, communication across barriers and patient advocacy. The emphasis on cross cultural and community based partnerships continue to fuel our passion to serve.
written by guest writers and 2nd year MEPNs- Dena Bisgaier, Augustus Leveque-Eichhorn, Jacquelyn Gaynor, Kelly Huerta, Arielle Sima , Mariah Winters, and Samantha Joy Zamora
During the summer and fall semesters of the second year in the MEPN program, USD nursing students have the opportunity to work with under-served communities around San Diego. This clinical rotation is centered around learning family and community health nursing. The Monarch School is a public school serving homeless youth in the Barrio Logan neighborhood here in San Diego. One of the 2nd year MEPN clinical groups is stationed at The Monarch School once per week from June thru December. Here is a glimpse into what we have been up to:
It has been such a joy to be assigned to Monarch for the past two semesters. Our clinical group has really been able to immerse ourselves in the Monarch community. We have been fortunate enough to participate in the school’s community engagement events such as their open house, flu clinic, and dental clinic. We also have had the opportunity to implement our own health education lesson plans for kindergarten through third grade. We have been able to deepen our understanding of the homeless community in San Diego through partnering with Serving Seniors and Father Joe’s to serve hot meals to the homeless community. Some of our Monarch students reside at Father Joe’s, a nearby organization that helps prevent homelessness and provides resources for residents to find housing and employment.
Alongside serving the community, we are also greatly involved in
the classrooms at Monarch where we tutor students and create special bonds. By
getting to know each student, we learn about their lives and we see how each of
their living situations has impacted them. Many students struggle with their
academics due to what they are facing outside of the school environment.
However, every student we encounter has the drive and capability to do great
things. We, as nursing students, help facilitate learning by building a
positive and trusting relationship with the students at Monarch, and encourage
them to thrive in their academic endeavors.
Below are a few images documenting our experience. We hope you enjoy reading about our experience as much as we enjoy our time at Monarch.
On this day Dena and Mariah presented their lesson plan to the second grade class. The focus of their lesson plan was on personal hygiene, the amount of sugar content in common drinks, the importance of drinking water and eating healthy.
On this day we served breakfast and prepared lunch for the homeless community at Father’s Joe’s Village.
On this day we set up health education booths on Monarch’s “Back to School Night”, to educate students and their families on topics such as Vaping, Blood Pressure, and Sugar Content.
In preparation for “Back to School Night” our clinical group assembled grocery bags of donated food and toiletry items. The grocery bags were used as an incentive for Monarch students and their families get a flu shot. Overall, the day was a success and we ended up assembling over 100 grocery bags and over 100 flu shots were administered.
As we continue to teach and grow as leaders in nursing, we are humbled at what the communities that we serve can teach us in return. This clinical experience reminds us that there are many factors influencing patient health, some factors stemming from the environment and the community in which the patient lives. We must work to strengthen our understanding of creating healthier communities, and in turn, we can influence environments for better patient outcomes.
This post is written by guest writer and MEPN student, Jessica Erickson
This past weekend, twelve MEPN students escaped the stress of their summer semester and jumped at the opportunity to teach at an educational health fair in La Morita, Tijuana. As most trips abroad tend to unfold, things did not go according to plan. An important funeral in the community used the intended space for the health fair at the San Eugenio Clinic site. Thankfully, the students displayed patience, adaptability and creativity, and set up the stations in classrooms below. However, because the health fair was now out of sight, a creative spark was needed once again. The most competent Spanish speakers invited members of the community to our health fair from the nearby farmers market and fair grounds. Soon, by word of mouth from around the neighborhood, our health fair blossomed with families.
Stations ranged from Hand hygiene, Diabetes, Hypertension, Hands only CPR and Nutrition education. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, friends and more joined in on the fun. Although the students were first intimidated to teach in Spanish, their compassion for healthcare and people shined through. Laughter, smiles and friendly conversation danced around the room. Blood glucose and blood pressure are always the most desirable stations, but hand hygiene, CPR and nutrition attracted just as many bodies with their positive energy and passion to teach. A highlight of the day was making bracelets, drawing pictures and playing cornhole with the kids of family members present.
One of the main goals of these trips is to establish community and build long term cross cultural relationships with our partners in La Morita. On a previous immersion trip, leaders Jessica Erickson and Kelly Huerta cultivated a friendship with Mexican medical student, Karla Gonzalez (featured above), and Karla returned for this most recent health fair. She not only assisted with educational conversation during the fair, but also shared her experience of what it is like to be a medical student in Mexico. Karla touched on the fact that, “we may be from different backgrounds, but we share a common ground of care for others as future healthcare workers, and that connects us as people. There should be no borders that separate us from helping one another.” After the health fair, the students toured San Eugenio Clinic, and were walked through the process of patient intake, assessment, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and discharge by the medical professionals working there. This clinic is unique in the treatment of interdisciplinary, collaborative care with medical, pharmaceutical, dental, psychological and spiritual services offered. It was a good reminder of the importance of holistic healing for patients.
The day ended at a taco stand where the students shared guacamole and reflected on their
experiences. Debriefing the highs and lows of the day is important for the students to process
their personal experience, and also helps to identify what could be improved for the next trip.
We discussed the needs of the La Morita community to be further addressed, and how to
continue to demonstrate our desire to serve with and learn from the welcoming community of La
Morita, Tijuana. Eyes were opened, hearts were filled, knowledge was shared, friendships were
strengthened and churros were eaten.
a short note to say congratulations on a job well done. Best of luck to
you as you are studying for the NCLEX, participating in job interviews, and
starting your new grad positions. All of us, at USD, look forward to
staying in touch with you and following each and every one of your nursing
A few things to keep in mind…
email is yours for life!
Join the Hahn School of Nursing group on ‘Linked In’
Plan to come back to campus for the MEPN Alumni Panel Discussion, in early
February, to share your new grad story with the graduating MEPNs.
As soon as you obtain your RN license, you are
able to apply for your PublicHealth Nurse (PHN) certificate (no exam
Contact Bianca Vazquez Pantoja at: firstname.lastname@example.org when you are ready and she will guide you through the process.
When you are ready to sit for the CNL exam, please contact the MEPN Office at
619-260-7608. We offer the exam on site at USD and can guide you through
the exam application process.
Don’t forget MEPN grads make the best lab and clinical faculty. Go out there and get
some experience, and then come back to USD to teach in the lab or clinical
setting. (Three years’ experience in the acute care setting is required by the
BRN so by then you will be ready to ‘pay it forward’ and educate the next
generation of nurses.)
It might be hard to fathom that someday you
might consider a PhD in Nursing. I would personally be thrilled to discuss this
educationally opportunity with you.
It is a pleasure and an honor to call you ‘colleague’.
Welcome to the nursing profession.
Kathy Marsh, Associate Dean, Hahn School of Nursing, USD and the
Team- Professor Peggy Mata, Dr Lyn Puhek, and Dr Deanna Johnston