MEPN student reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic

As a 2nd year MEPN student, and as an employee at one of SDs largest hospitals, it has been a challenging time during this pandemic.  We have all had major disruptions to our daily life, and changes to our academic expectations, normal ways of studying/learning, and policies and procedures in the workplace.  There is also a general sense of uncertainty pervading our communities, and society.  That said, it has also been exceedingly remarkable to see true leadership in action.  

The transparency and proactive initiative the MEPN admin and faculty have demonstrated is inspiring.  They have placed our education and success at the forefront of their efforts, while also advocating for us to remain in the community to assist with crisis relief.  Also, our hospitals and clinics in SD have really come through for their patients, and made great efforts to respond appropriately to the pandemic—even as the landscape has been shifting every day.  This is quite a time to be entering the profession of nursing! 

Now more than ever, it is clear that we have been training in the knowledge and clinical practice needed to meet the challenges of our time.  I am so thankful for the admin and faculty of the MEPN program, for my classmates and coworkers coming together to support each other, and for the health care leaders in SD county. 

This crisis has been challenging—but it has also revealed the leadership, commitment, and compassionate spirit that our patients need.  Thank you all so much.

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What MEPNs need to know today about COVID-19

Dear MEPNs ,

We hope you and your families are staying well and that you are getting adjusted to the ‘Stay at Home’ orders. Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19.

The MEPN Team


Around the world and across the country, leaders are looking for how and when to lift the lockdown. Citizens are longing to get back to their normal lives. Nevertheless, as with treating the virus itself, there is no simple solution:

What is going on in other countries?


We all want an end in sight. But, if restarting America means that some people will die, what’s the exit strategy?

The answer is, of course, uncertain. Here are a few unknowns about the virus that, if solved, could give us a better idea:

What can we learn from history?


Despite initial hopes that the U.S. could open as early as Easter weekend, this has proven to be unrealistic. However, teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the CDC have created a public health strategy to combat COVID-19 and re-open parts of the country.

  • The plan does not give dates for reopening’s, but it specifies this will not happen before May 1.
  • The plan outlines three phases:
    • Until May 1: Prepare the nation to reopen with a national communication campaign and community readiness assessment.
    • Through May 15: Ramp up manufacturing of testing kits and personal protective equipment and increase emergency funding.
    • After May 15: Begin staged reopenings, depending on local conditions.


The best path forward is a cautious one. Re-opening some parts of the country before the end of April would go against guidelines in their current form.

  • Recommendation: Providers should continue to advise all patients to stay at home, and encourage patients to exercise caution not only for their own health and safety, but also of those around them.

In the end, some cities and states may recover sooner than others cities.

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“Give me your tired, your poor…”

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.  

Julia Curtiss looks on as Natalia Melendez screens for lice while Professor Mata and Dr Marsh provide instruction
Nathalia Melendez provided lice treatment for many children and parents

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.

Matt Finley and research associate, Allison Marsh discuss solutions for clean water with the pastor and asylum seekers

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.

students and faculty walking across the border

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Get Ready for the Employment Fair


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Room HSN-106

Irene S. Palmer Lecture Hall

1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Who Will Be There:

ANM Healthcare

California Casualty Management Company

Department of State Hospitals-Atascadero

Ensign Services

Hispanic Nurses Association of San Diego County

Kaiser Permanente

Minute Clinic Diagnostic Medical Group Neighborhood Clinics

Nursing Educational Opportunities, Inc.

Philippine Nurses Association of San Diego

Rady Children’s Hospital

San Diego Unified School District

San Ysidro Health

Scripps Health

Sharp HealthCare

Tri-City Medical Center

University of California, San Diego Medical Center

United States Navy

VA Medical Center


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Nurses Continue to Rate Highest in Honesty, Ethics

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

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Welcome to 2020 – The Year of the Nurse

In recognition of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared 2020 as The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife (YONM).

Ernest Grant, president of American Nurses Association encourages all nurses to make 2020 your year to engage in activities.

  1. Highlight and promote nursing excellence
  2. Infuse nursing leadership across the spectrum of health and healthcare
  3.  Foster, stimulate, and diffuse nursing innovation to benefit patients and communities

All nurses have a story. How will you tell yours?

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Global Health Update

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.

Krystal Neag, MEPN ’21 hangs out with the kids

Continue to follow the blog to get updates on our work with the Asylum seekers.

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MEPNs Help Build A Flu-Free Community

First year MEPN, Matt Finley, administers a Flu Shot to USD student

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.

MEPN student, Ryan Adames, calmly chats with a student while administering a Flu shot
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MEPNs work with refugees seeking asylum in the United States at US Mexico border

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.

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Monarch placement adds depth to MEPN experience

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.

2nd Year MEPN Students Dena Bisgaier and Mariah Winters
teaching a health education class to 2nd graders 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. 

Volunteering at Father Joe’s Villages, serving San Diegans experiencing homelessness.
From left:  Augustus Leveque-Eichhorn, Dena Bisgaier, Arielle Sima, Mariah Winters, Samantha Joy Zamora, Jacquelyn Gaynor and Kelly Huerta.

On this day we served breakfast and prepared lunch for the homeless community at Father’s Joe’s Village. 

Monarch’s “Back to School Night”, providing health education to 
students and their families on topics such as sugar content in drinks, 
vaping and blood pressure.
2nd Year MENP students pictured:  Dena Bisgaier and Arielle Sima.

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. 

Filling grocery bags for Monarch School’s “Back to School Night”, with donated 
items from local businesses.
From Left:  Arielle Sima, Mariah Winters, Samantha Joy Zamora, Kelly Huerta, 
Jacquelyn Gaynor and Dena Bisgaier.

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.

From Left:  Kelly Huerta, Augustus Leveque-Eichhorn, Jacquelyn Gaynor, 
Dena Bisgaier, Professor Scott Teerlink, Mariah Winters, Arielle Sima and
Samantha Joy Zamora.

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.  

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