Nursing Students Take Health Care to Migrant Farm Workers and Their
and students from Emory University will travel next month to the south
Georgia city of Moultrie and the surrounding area to provide health
care services to migrant farm workers and their families.
During the weeks of June
9-14 and June 16-21, approximately 30 baccalaureate and nurse practitioner
students will work each morning at Sunset Elementary School. Over the
two intensive weeks, they will assess and examine nearly 500 children
enrolled in the Summer Migrant Education Program. In the evening, the
nursing students will staff a mobile clinic, called the Nightingale
Van, to assess, examine and treat adults. The van, equipped with two
exam rooms and bathroom facilities, will travel to migrant work camps
and packing sheds in Colquitt, Tift and Cook counties.
For the first time, the Emory
University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing has undertaken the
nursing component of the Migrant Family Health Program that began in
1994 at Georgia State University (GSU). According to Lorine Spencer,
the nursing consultant who headed the program at GSU and now guides
the program at Emory, students can expect an "intensive immersion learning
"This program helps students
tremendously by exposing them to all types of health problems, people
and cultures," Spencer said. "We see a lot of Hispanic people as well
as Haitians and people from other Caribbean Islands."
The Migrant Family Health
Program also includes dental hygiene students from Clayton State College
and University to teach proper dental care, psychology students from
GSU to assess and identify learning disabilities, GSU physical therapy
students, and students from the Agnes Scott College anthropology department.
The group will also be assisted by Spanish-speaking outreach workers
from the stateÕs farmworker program.
Emory undergraduate nursing
students will conduct screenings on migrant children to include vision
and hearing, a urinalysis to check for urinary tract infections, hemoglobin
tests to screen for anemia, and height and weight measurements to assess
growth development. Family nurse practitioner students will perform
physical assessments on all children and refer those with medical problems.
The migrant family adults
will be screened for blood pressure, weight, height, hemoglobin, glucose
and other tests as needed. Dr. Judith Wold, program director, anticipates
that the most common health ailments in migrant adults will be muscle
strains, back problems, urinary tract infections, skin rashes, and eye
There are more than 100,000
migrant and seasonal farm workers in Georgia. Their health problems
are often different and more complex than the general population. The
repetitive and high physical demands of their jobs, pesticide exposure,
poor access to health care and substandard housing conditions contribute
to the poor health of migrant farm workers and their families. And with
pay rates frequently less than minimum wage, they generally donÕt earn
enough to pay for health care. They often fear losing wages and even
their jobs if they take time off to seek health care.
Wold believes universities
such as Emory are in a "strategic position to act on behalf of and work
in partnership with disadvantaged communities through service learning
projects to promote equity, justice and accountability in building new
health care models.
"Combining service and experiential
learning is a natural extension of the service concept that has been
historically a part of nursing education," Wold says. "Service learning
is a mutually beneficial arrangement between a community in need of
service and an educational institution that needs to educate its students
in social responsibility, social competence and global awareness."
Other partners involved include
the Southeastern Primary Care Consortium/Atlanta Area Health Education
Center, South Georgia College (supplies the Nightingale van), the Georgia
Department of Human Resources, the Colquitt County Health Department,
and local farm owners, physicians, churches, businesses and volunteers.