The University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Nursing faculty and students are making a positive difference in the Hattiesburg community by volunteering at The Fellowship Health Clinic. In their most recent efforts, Dr. Elizabeth Tinnon and USM College of Nursing students were able to assist the clinic in the triage of patients and by working in the lab.
Since The Fellowship Health Clinic opened its doors in January 2016, The College of Nursing has worked with The Fellowship Health Clinic to provide the Hattiesburg community with quality healthcare services which are free for patients.
“As a professor, one of the most humbling things to see is how students walk away from volunteering at the Fellowship Health Clinic completely changed,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tinnon, assistant professor for The Department of Collaborative Nursing Care. “Our students do not often realize the poverty level in our own community and how poverty affects a person’s health, in regards to level of wellness, ability to purchase medications, and access to health information.
“Volunteering while in nursing school is a great way for our students to pull together the knowledge learned in the classroom and put it to use in practice.”
Amanda Achary, of Mandeville, La., a second-semester nursing student, said volunteering at The Fellowship Health Clinic has been her favorite clinical experience so far. “I get to volunteer in the pharmacy, interview patients, learn how to assess patients under nursing supervisor, and I get to interact with members of my community,” said Achary.
“I believe volunteering will help me to be a better nurse because in the classroom I learn the facts and I hear examples of people who are impoverished, but it becomes reality for me when I get to help the people in the community one-on-one,” Achary said. “Dr. Tinnon has made me realize the importance of what nurses can do for the community.”
Dr. Katherine Nugent, dean of The College of Nursing, echoed Tinnon’s enthusiasm about her faculty and students who volunteer at least once a month with The Fellowship Health Clinic. “I believe that the partnership between The Fellowship Health Clinic and the College of Nursing is a win-win situation,” said Nugent. “The experience will increase the competency of our students in understanding the community needs, and will enhance the coordination of care resulting in better health outcomes.”
At present, approximately 21 percent of Hattiesburg-area residents do not have health coverage, according to 2014 data from the Mississippi Department of Health.