The opportunity to work with the Center for Health Equity and Innovation at Purdue University was serendipitous in nature. I was listening to Dr. Jasmine Gonsalvo speak at a lecture event when I realized just how much I had in common with the work she was doing in and near my community.
I took some time to reach out and began to foster a relationship to allow Senior nursing students at Purdue the opportunity to have an impact on the social determinants of health in the Indianapolis community through work at a homeless shelter, a food pantry and some local high schools.
The nursing students in the homeless shelter over the course of a year gave over 240 vaccines. While the majority of these vaccines were for adult men, they also had opportunities to give vaccines to women and children. Ultimately, they helped make sure some of our most vulnerable populations had access to free, safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 and Influenza. Additionally, they had the opportunity to share some of their knowledge on various health topics and screenings such as blood pressure, first aid and hypothermia among so many others.
The students who went to the local high schools were able to spend their days with the school nurses. While there, they assisted in the Fall semester with making sure the high school students met the vaccine requirements for Indiana. Additionally, they had the opportunity to work on health education events at the school.
Finally, students also had an opportunity to work at a local food pantry to offer vaccines and blood pressure screenings to those families who might not have access. Again, these students were able to provide vaccines to entire families helping to make sure families are protected against some of our most common causes of respiratory illness in Indiana.
The partnership with the Center for Health Equity and Innovation has been an excellent opportunity to allow collaboration between nursing and pharmacy. This partnership is uniquely important in the healthcare field. And as we look toward the new nursing/pharmacy building project this relationship has the chance to show just how powerful the two fields can be at fighting for health equity here in Indiana.
Rebecca Johnson, RN, BSN, CPN, MBA
Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Nursing