Service learning is an important element of nursing education. It is not merely service which benefits the community, nor is it simply providing community health promotion. As the name suggests, service learning also facilitates student learning opportunities that differ from the classroom or clinical experience. The senior center group project was valuable, in that it allowed for the enhancement of personal health care knowledge, as well as the opportunity to share that knowledge with the older adult community.
The initial visit to the senior center involved assessments of blood pressure, blood glucose, oxygen saturation and heart rate. The participants were informed of their assessment values and encouraged to write them down. Many of the seniors asked questions related to what the numbers meant, if the values were within a healthy range and ultimately how they translated to daily living. Research shows that older adults are more likely to learn and retain new information that is perceived as relevant to their life, and should “include education with the explicit aim of enhancing active involvement of patients so that they become partners in their health care process” (Cooper, Booth, & Gill, 2003). It was evident that there was both a need and readiness for further education regarding the assessments. For this reason, we chose to teach about the health assessment results, including: target ranges, tips to achieve optimal levels, as well as how the numbers relate to daily living.
There were four nursing students participating in the service learning project group. One week prior to the class, we posted a flyer on the senior center bulletin board, which was entitled “Health Screening FAQs: What are the numbers telling you?” followed by the date and time. We then developed a tri-fold handout, which detailed the basic target ranges, and tips to improve levels. The handout detailed diet and exercise recommendations and included a reminder to consult with a primary health care provider, in order to determine an individually appropriate therapeutic regiment (Tabloski, 2014). We were asked, by the representative of the senior center, to present the information during lunch, as she felt we were most likely to have the group’s full attention while they were eating. Each of us presented one of the aforementioned assessment categories.
Having had recent opportunity to teach a class about diabetes, I was selected to lead the discussion about blood glucose monitoring and management. Drawing on prior research, I put together a short presentation which included a normative blood glucose target range of 70-110 mg/dL (pre-prandial); noting that there is often an increase in normal range after age 50 years (Pagana & Pagana, 2013, p. 478). Information was also...