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Local Nursing Students Focus on Children’s Health During First Ever Clinical Placement at Linklater Public School


(Gananoque) – Six third-year nursing students from St. Lawrence College in Brockville, in conjunction with Laurentian University, have spent the last couple of months in Linklater Public School classrooms promoting and learning about community health as part of their clinical placement.

This is the first time nursing students from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program have spent their clinical placement in a school, said Claire Farella, clinical instructor and professor of the BScN program. Last spring, she came up with the idea to collaborate with Linklater after attending a conference in Toronto. Principal Harold Hess was on board and invited the students to the school.

From November until the end of February, Jordan Taylor, Sasha Murray, Kali Conboy, Jan Zinck, Rachelle Lavoie and William Underwood will spend a total of 142 hours each – the time required for the clinical placement – at Linklater.

"In third year, students have a heavy concentration in community health," said Farella. "The first two years they spent learning theory in class. Now they have the opportunity to live the experience."

In November and December, the students worked with Linklater staff to learn more about Linklater students and about how they could help with health and wellness promotion in the classroom. From now until the end of February, they will spend more time with students doing mini-teachings about a number of relevant health topics.

"We conducted a teacher survey on the first day we were here to find out what we could help with in terms of teaching," said Taylor. "Assessment was key on the first day.

"From that, we determined that bullying and cyberbullying were the main issues," he added. "We started looking at the Playground Activity Leaders in School (PALS) program right away."

On Tuesday, the nursing students made a presentation to the school about PALS. They encouraged students in grades 4-6 to get involved and become a PAL for students in grade 1-3. PALS students act as an extra set of eyes for staff to identify and deal with bullying on the playground, and as mentors providing entertaining and inclusive games for younger children to keep them active.

The nursing students will also spend time educating grades 1-4 students about lice and hygiene, and grades 5-8 students about nutrition, body image, self-esteem and cyberbullying.

"Students even have the opportunity to come in on their lunches to further discuss these and other topics," said Zinck. "It’s great for them to have some face-time."

"It’s our goal to be available," added Underwood. "Some students are shy so we want to be accessible."

The nursing students all agreed that they appreciate the opportunity to do their placement in a unique environment like a school. Many said it’s given them the chance to see what a public health nurse would do in a school.

"It provides a different aspect of community health," said Underwood. "This is the greatest place to be because this is where it all begins."

"You can see it all in a school," said Hess. "It gives you a picture of the whole community. This is a unique experience."

The students said the placement has also given them the chance to see the many school-community partnerships and resources that are available to them and to the students at Linklater.

"This school has so many resources," said Conboy.

"There’s a lot of buy-in from the teachers and the community," said Taylor. "They have an interest in the health and well-being of the students."

Farella said she hopes other principals, teachers and school staff members in the Brockville and Prescott area will become interested in having nursing students do their clinical placement at their schools.

"We thought really hard about which students we should put here," she said. "These are professional and truly care about healthy children."

Hess wholeheartedly agreed.

"They’re forward-thinking, self-starters," he said. "I’d have nursing students do their placement here again. There’s a huge need in our world for community health. The wellness of Linklater students is of upmost importance to us and we want to do all we can to ensure they are healthy in their school years and beyond."

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For more information please call:

Harold Hess
Linklater Public School

Claire Farella
Professor, BScN Collaborative Program
St. Lawrence College
613-345-0660 ext. 3205