“Wow, That Could Be Me One Day” – Wayne State’s Erik Carter Traces His Path from Teenage LVN to Nurse Educator

“Wow, That Could Be Me One Day” – Wayne State’s Erik Carter Traces His Path from Teenage LVN to Nurse Educator

“You know, when I was in nursing school, I never saw anyone that looked like me as an instructor.” Erik Carter, PhD, MS, APRN, CNS, CCRN-A, PHN, director of undergraduate programs for the Wayne State University College of Nursing, recalls “thinking it would be nice, at some point in my career, if I could be a face that students could see in themselves and say, “Hey, wow, that could be me one day.”

Carter – who teaches the college’s transition to practice class and is currently serving a three-year term as a human rights commissioner for the City of Detroit – was barely old enough to drive when he launched his career.

Erik Carter, PhD, MS, APRN, CNS, CCRN-A, PHN.The California native became an LVN at 17 after completing a program in high school, and by 1990 he had earned his RN as a public health nurse. Carter caught the teaching bug about 10 years later while working as an acute and critical care cardiovascular nurse in San Fransisco. Observing Carter sharing his experience with local students during clinical rounds, an impressed faculty member urged him to add teaching to his skill-set. The young man was soon dividing his time between bedside nursing and work as a clinical instructor at a community college.

About two years later, Carter’s career lanes started to merge after yet another impressed colleague  – this time, an African American faculty member – encouraged him to join the growing ranks of melanin-enhanced nurse educators.  It was an inspired idea, as “no one had ever asked me if I was interested in graduate work,” and BSN grads from California to Michigan are certainly glad that someone finally did pop the question.

However, long before there was a string of credentials following his name, Carter had just three letters to his credit: LVN. Below, he recounts his journey…

Why did you become a nurse?

My matriculation into nursing was a little bit different than the traditional route. I started my nursing career as a licensed vocational nurse. In high school, where I lived in Los Angeles County, a program offered interested and eligible students a portal into the health care realm. I applied for the program toward the end of my junior year. I completed the program in my senior year, with additional requisite courses that I took at night to fulfill my graduation requirements. After the program, I met the requirements and was able to sit for the NCLEX for vocational nurses, so that’s how I started my career in nursing. I was 17 at the time and had to wait until I turned 18 because they were unsure if a 17 year old should have access to drugs and dispensing narcotics; nevertheless, I became licensed and started work in long-term care after graduating high school.

“If you genuinely want to serve others in your community, nursing is one of the best ways to go about doing it.”

How did you get into teaching?

I worked at this hospital in San Francisco — California Pacific Medical Center — in a heart transplant unit. One of the local colleges had instructors who would bring students to our department. I loved having the students and sharing what I knew regarding nursing. One of the instructors observed all this activity happening between myself and the students, so I was approached and asked if I would be interested in being a clinical instructor. So, I applied to the college and became a clinical instructor for this community college nursing program on top of my regular bedside nursing position.

“‘Have you ever thought about going back to grad school?’
It was a surreal question, as no one had ever asked me if I was interested in graduate work, nor did I think it was an option for myself.”

A couple of years into that program, I met another African American faculty member working there. He was completing his Ph.D. at the University of California San Francisco. We just started having a conversation, and he said, “Have you ever thought about going back to grad school?” It was a surreal question, as no one had ever asked me if I was interested in graduate work, nor did I think it was an option for myself. In high school, this conversation never took place.

I hadn’t actually, but I thought about it for about a month or so, and I said, “You know, when I was in nursing school, I never saw anyone that looked like me as an instructor.” I remember thinking it would be nice, at some point in my career, if I could be a face that students could see in themselves and say, “Hey, wow, that could be me one day.”

You were appointed last June as a human rights commissioner for Detroit District 5. How did that come about?

The Human Rights Commission falls under the auspices of CRIO, which is the Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity Department for the City of Detroit. I know the director — she’s a friend of mine — and we often have conversations. One day, I talked about wanting to do more within the community. As a faculty member of the College of Nursing, there’s a trifecta that includes teaching and scholarship and the element of service to the nursing profession and the communities that we serve.

“One day, I talked about wanting to do more within the community…”

At Wayne State, I’m charged with training students to become nurses to provide care for those who live within our community. I was trying to think of a way I could connect these endeavors, and she said, “Well, have you ever thought about being a commissioner for the Human Rights Commission in your district?”

I started thinking about it and was like, Yes, I can see that connection. So, we had further conversations. I had to be interviewed by the Detroit City Council, and they agreed that this was a good fit, and I was appointed as a human rights commissioner for District 5. To be part of the commission, you must live within that district, and we live in the downtown area, which encompasses District 5.

What are your responsibilities with this appointment?

Primarily, [the commissioner] is the point person for constituents who want to get information on equal economic, political and educational opportunities so that all have equal access. When I was reading through the charter, the part that stuck out to me was access to educational opportunities. For me, it always goes back to representation. We’re an urban university nestled in Detroit, which is a large percentage, I would say 80%, African American — but when you look at our nursing cohorts admitted into our programs, they are an underrepresented population, so I am trying to think of a way to increase potential nursing students’ admission into our programs and how that connects to that charter and my role as a human rights commissioner in Detroit.

We are still in a pandemic. Why should people consider a career in nursing?

I think the exact reason you would come into nursing if there were not a pandemic. If you want to offer something to your community in your heart of hearts, I think it speaks volumes to you as a human being to provide needed care to those who require it.

The nursing profession has tentacles that reach so many different areas of health care. You can begin your career in primary care and move to a community setting. After a couple of years, you can start in the med-surg department and transition into critical care. There’s just so much that you can do in this profession. If you genuinely want to serve others in your community, nursing is one of the best ways to go about doing it.

 

 

 

What is Alopecia? It is No Joke for Millions of Black Women

What is Alopecia? It is No Joke for Millions of Black Women

The Oscar slap that overshadowed the Academy Awards ceremony was sparked by a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s lack of hair – with husband Will Smith objecting violently to comedian Chris Rock mocking the actress’s shaved head.

Away from the recriminations over what could be perceived as a mean-spirited jibe and a disproportionate response, many people will sympathize with Pinkett Smith. As millions of women in the U.S. will attest, hair loss is no laughing matter.

Originally published in The Conversation.The Conversation asked dermatologist Danita Peoples of Wayne State University’s School of Medicine about alopecia and why certain forms of it can disproportionately affect Black women.

1. What is alopecia?

Alopecia is a medical word that refers to hair loss generally. And there are descriptors added which can refer to where the hair loss is occurring, or to the cause of it. Traction alopecia, for example, is hair loss from trauma or chronic inflammatory changes to the hair follicles.

2. What causes it?

Traction alopecia happens when there is trauma to the scalp, where the hair is being pulled or rubbed on a regular basis, causing inflammation around the hair follicles. This can lead to hair loss or thinning.

Alopecia areata describes hair loss to a particular area. It has different levels of severity, so there might be just a coin-sized area of hair loss on the scalp, or it could affect large areas. It can occur any place on the body.

Or it might result in complete hair loss on the scalp, alopecia totalis. Some people lose eyebrows or see a thinning of their eyelashes.

People can even have alopecia universalis, which is a loss of hair on the entire body.

Alopecia areata is considered an “immune-mediated” type of hair loss. The immune system is attacking the hair follicles. It has to do with T cells, the important white blood cells in the immune system.

And then other autoimmune disorders can have alopecia associated with them. This is the form of alopecia that Jada Pinkett Smith has said she has.

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that can lead to hair loss. One type is systemic lupus erythematosus. Another type, discoid lupus erythematosus, primarily affects the skin and can cause hair loss with scarring on the scalp.

Thyroid abnormalities can be related to hair loss as well. In fact, when patients come to me with hair loss, the first test that I may order is a thyroid study.

3. Who does alopecia affect?

Anyone can get alopecia. Alopecia areata can show up at any age, from children to adults, and both men and women. But it’s more likely to affect African Americans than white or Asian Americans. About 1 million people in the U.S. have alopecia areata.

Traction alopecia can affect people in certain professions, like ballerinas, who wear their hair up in buns all the time. The pressure and friction from sports headgear, like helmets or baseball caps, can also cause hair loss. And in some parts of northern Europe, where it is common for people to pull their hair back tight on a regular basis, there are higher rates of traction alopecia. Traction alopecia affects one-third of women of African descent, making it the most common type of alopecia affecting Black women.

4. Why is traction alopecia so common among Black women?

That is due to certain hair styling practices that Black women use on their hair – wearing tight weaves or extensions, straightening with heat, that sort of thing. Hair is a big deal among African American women in a way that it isn’t for others. When I was growing up, my older relatives told us girls that our hair was our “crowning glory.” And they made a big deal about us keeping our hair looking stylish and well groomed, and that usually meant straightening it.

But I believe there’s less pressure than there used to be for Black women to keep our hair straightened, in the workplace or elsewhere.

5. How is it treated?

It depends on the cause. There are injected or topical corticosteroids for alopecia areata. If it’s due to a nutritional deficiency, like iron or protein, obviously you simply need to correct the deficiencies with supplements or by changing the diet. When it is caused by traction or discoid lupus, if you don’t treat the inflammation on the scalp soon enough, the hair loss can become permanent.

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When it comes to traction, though, it’s much more about eliminating the practices that cause the problem in the first place. What’s happening now is more people are aware of the downsides of chemical or heat applications to straighten the hair and are using those damaging processes less.

One thing that may help is the CROWN Act, legislation introduced last year, which the U.S. House passed on March 18, 2022. That would make it illegal to discriminate against people wearing natural styles, such as afros and braids, so I am hopeful that it will contribute to a lot less traction alopecia in the future.

Nurse Researchers’ Study Suggests that Microaggressions Can be Hazardous to Your Health

Nurse Researchers’ Study Suggests that Microaggressions Can be Hazardous to Your Health

Two recent papers by UIC College of Nursing faculty found that microaggressions – common, subtle indignities – can be just as harmful as a major discriminatory event, contributing to negative mental and physical health outcomes in bisexual women.

Two recent papers by UIC College of Nursing faculty found that microaggressions – common, subtle indignities – can be just as harmful as a major discriminatory event, contributing to negative mental and physical health outcomes in bisexual women. Associate professor Wendy Bostwick, PhD, MPH, and assistant professor Ariel U. Smith, PhD, RN, were co-authors on both papers, one published in the Journal of Bisexuality and the other in Psychology of Sexual Orientation Gender Diversity, a publication of the American Psychological Association. Both relied on findings from the Women’s Daily Experience Study of 112 ethnically and racially-diverse bisexual women. Bostwick is principal investigator on a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities grant which funded the Women’s Daily Experience Study, one of the first ever to focus on bi-identified women and mental health. Participants completed a baseline survey, followed by 28 days of e-diaries to capture microaggressions that they may have experienced during the previous 24 hours. “The old saying goes, ‘sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you,” Smith says. “But you look at the data and realize that’s simply not true. Microaggressions that someone has experienced over a lifetime are correlated with mental and physical ailments they experience even today.” The researchers looked at microaggressions related to sexual orientation, race and gender. Microaggressions could include denying a person’s bisexuality—suggesting it’s “just a phase”—or a rude or insulting comment about lesbian or gay individuals. A comment minimizing or denying the existence of racial discrimination is an example of a racial microaggression. Participants reported an average of eight microaggressions of any type in the previous month, with almost all women—97%—reporting at least one microaggression throughout the duration of the study. Gender-based microaggressions were reported the most frequently. Women reported being sexually objectified on more than 15% of the days recorded. The papers also found microaggressions were associated with poor mental health and binge drinking, smoking and marijuana use. The most consistent finding was an association between microaggressions and anxiety. “Our findings suggest that for bisexual women, the weight of denigrating comments about their sexual identity, gender and race can contribute to poor health outcomes—whether such comments happened last year or yesterday,” Bostwick says. “Of course, these comments are situated in a larger context of systemic inequities, which may render bisexual women with fewer resources to cope when confronted with dismissive and disparaging comments about core aspects of who they are and their own lived experiences.” Bisexual women of color were a majority in the study—57%—a group that is notably absent in the literature, the researchers say. Latina bisexual women reported worse health outcomes than Black and White bisexual women in their daily diaries. Smith says the impact of microaggressions on bisexual women of color is an area where further research is needed. “So often we focus on the large discriminatory events, like being denied housing or being fired from a job,” Smith says. “These subtle comments and slights can be just as harmful. That’s why it’s important to address it through education – understanding and recognizing what a microaggression is and then adapting policies to raise awareness.” Co-authors included UIC Nursing visiting research specialist Larisa Burke, MPH, Amy L. Hequembourg, Alecia Santuzzi and UIC Nursing professor emerita Tonda Hughes, PhD ’89, RN, FAAN.Associate professor Wendy Bostwick, PhD, MPH, and assistant professor Ariel U. Smith, PhD, RN, were co-authors on both papers, one published in the Journal of Bisexuality and the other in Psychology of Sexual Orientation Gender Diversity, a publication of the American Psychological Association. Both relied on findings from the Women’s Daily Experience Study of 112 ethnically and racially-diverse bisexual women.

Bostwick is principal investigator on a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities grant which funded the Women’s Daily Experience Study, one of the first ever to focus on bi-identified women and mental health. Participants completed a baseline survey, followed by 28 days of e-diaries to capture microaggressions that they may have experienced during the previous 24 hours.

“The old saying goes, ‘sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you,” Smith says. “But you look at the data and realize that’s simply not true. Microaggressions that someone has experienced over a lifetime are correlated with mental and physical ailments they experience even today.”

The researchers looked at microaggressions related to sexual orientation, race and gender. Microaggressions could include denying a person’s bisexuality—suggesting it’s “just a phase”—or a rude or insulting comment about lesbian or gay individuals. A comment minimizing or denying the existence of racial discrimination is an example of a racial microaggression.

Participants reported an average of eight microaggressions of any type in the previous month, with almost all women—97%—reporting at least one microaggression throughout the duration of the study.

Gender-based microaggressions were reported the most frequently. Women reported being sexually objectified on more than 15% of the days recorded.

The papers also found microaggressions were associated with poor mental health and binge drinking, smoking and marijuana use. The most consistent finding was an association between microaggressions and anxiety.

“Our findings suggest that for bisexual women, the weight of denigrating comments about their sexual identity, gender and race can contribute to poor health outcomes—whether such comments happened last year or yesterday,” Bostwick says. “Of course, these comments are situated in a larger context of systemic inequities, which may render bisexual women with fewer resources to cope when confronted with dismissive and disparaging comments about core aspects of who they are and their own lived experiences.”

Bisexual women of color were a majority in the study—57%—a group that is notably absent in the literature, the researchers say. Latina bisexual women reported worse health outcomes than Black and White bisexual women in their daily diaries. Smith says the impact of microaggressions on bisexual women of color is an area where further research is needed.

“So often we focus on the large discriminatory events, like being denied housing or being fired from a job,” Smith says. “These subtle comments and slights can be just as harmful. That’s why it’s important to address it through education – understanding and recognizing what a microaggression is and then adapting policies to raise awareness.”

Co-authors included UIC Nursing visiting research specialist Larisa Burke, MPH, Amy L. Hequembourg, Alecia Santuzzi and UIC Nursing professor emerita Tonda Hughes, PhD ’89, RN, FAAN.

National Minority Health Month Emphasizes Vaccines

National Minority Health Month Emphasizes Vaccines

Each year, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities designates April as Minority Health Month to help promote information and understanding of the health disparities and conditions in minority populations.

In recognition of the continuing pandemic and the disproportionate toll COVID-19 has taken, and continues to take, on minority communities, the theme for 2022’s Minority Health Month is Give Your Community a Boost! The theme centers on the importance of vaccination and getting boosters to help control the spread of and the toll from COVID-19.

How can nurses help spread awareness of minority health during the month?

  • They can act as minority health ambassadors in their communities to promote the importance of screenings and healthy behaviors.
  • They can educate patients and give them information and resources that can help them take control over and prevent some common diseases.
  • They can act as a support for their loved ones to make sure they have accurate information and know how to work with their healthcare providers for the best possible outcomes.
  • They can care for themselves to act as role models and to live the healthiest lives possible.

Racial and ethnic minority populations continue to experience the greater impact of many diseases while also struggling with resources and access to high-quality, culturally competent healthcare.

Patients want to meet with healthcare providers who look like them and who understand some of the cultural influences that can impact their healthcare choices and options. If a nurse understands that instructing a patient to avoid all high-fat or high-salt foods might not be possible in many families, then a more culturally sensitive plan can be worked on.

Patients don’t want to feel judged and so understanding, for instance, how a patient shops for food, accesses transportation, plans a list, and cooks meals, and for how many people, can shape a more collaborative and acceptable treatment plan and likely be one that is more successful.

In keeping with this year’s theme of Give Your Community a Boost!, nurses can work with patients around the health equity of the pandemic. They can make sure patients understand how to access vaccines and boosters, determine if they need assistance with transportation, ask if they have supports in place if needed or a plan to cope with potential side effects, and have accurate information about vaccination. Nurses can stress the evidence and the science behind the shots while being sensitive to any mistrust or caution based on misinformation around the vaccines. Patients also need information about the vaccines’ protective benefits in minority communities where COVID-19 raises the risk for hospitalizations and deaths.

During this month that’s devoted to minority health, nurses are excellent educators for their patients and their communities. The more they can help support people to take an active role in their health, to advocate for themselves and their loved ones, and to understand the importance of their own conditions or risk factors, the healthier, and stronger, communities will become.

Finding a Health Routine That Fits Your Nursing Lifestyle – And Why It Matters

Finding a Health Routine That Fits Your Nursing Lifestyle – And Why It Matters

As a nurse, you know that shouldn’t risk your health while you help improve the health of others, but it can be especially hard for a health care provider to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Every day, you make a difference in the lives of individual patients and the overall well-being of the community, but while you’re focused on the health of others, you need to counter the aspects of your job that can be detrimental to your own wellness. The healthier you are, the better you can help your patients (and your loved ones as well!).

So, let’s take a closer look at what the benefits are of maintaining your physical health as a nurse. What do you stand to gain from keeping your health in check, and how can you integrate a healthy routine into your lifestyle?

Strengthening Energy and Immunity

Your job as a nurse can take a lot out of you. Some focus on building your physical wellbeing can make sure you and your patients benefit from negative impacts here. With solid energy levels and optimized immunity, you can perform all tasks to the best of your ability. Not to mention it keeps you personally on top form.

Some ways you can maintain your physical health in this area include

●      Tai-Chi and Yoga

Tai-Chi and yoga are mind-body exercises regarded as effective in boosting energy and immunity. The combination of deep and slow breathing, mindfulness, and physical stretching can reduce your fatigue and strengthen your muscles. Not to mention they can support your mental well-being. Particular poses — like the cobra and downward dog — are considered helpful for energy maintenance. These are also exercises you can take just a few minutes out of your busy day to perform.

●      Resistance Strength Training

This type of exercise involves the use of equipment such as weights and resistance bands. It may seem as though this would expend more energy than it gains you. But if you’re mindful of your limitations and build up gradually, you can experience short- and long-term boosts. It can also help you to sleep better, which can improve your energy. There is also evidence to suggest this type of regular exercise has a positive impact on the immune system.

●      Walk Outside

It can certainly be difficult to galvanize your motivation to exercise, particularly if you already have low energy levels. But it’s important to recognize that even small actions can help to begin with. Taking a couple of moments each day to step outside your hospital or clinic to take a walk in the fresh air and sunshine can do wonders. It keeps you energized, maintains your health, and can motivate you to adopt more beneficial activities.

Optimizing the Senses

Being a nurse requires you to be sharp at all times. Noting less-obvious symptoms or patient body language can influence whether you can deliver the right care to them. Not to mention it can be quite distressing to find you need to strain your eyes and ears in the course of your duties. As such, keeping your senses top-notch is a vital aspect of maintaining your physical health.

Some important focuses here include:

●      Nutrition to Protect Your Eyes

Maintaining a balanced diet is a key aspect of keeping generally healthy. But it’s important to understand how your nutritional intake can have a direct impact on your visual health. Some foods contain antioxidants that can protect you against cataracts. Foods high in vitamin C could reduce the risk of glaucoma. It’s worth taking the time to plan your meals to include these foods that play a key role in keeping your senses sharp. Many brightly colored fruits, leafy greens, and fatty fish can make a positive impact.

●      Minimize Negative Stimuli

As a nurse, many of the physical health risks to your senses are likely to involve aspects of strain. Harsh strip lighting and spending a lot of time looking at computer screens can put pressure on your eyesight. If you work in the city or busy environments, loud noises can affect your hearing over time. Taking steps to mitigate the effect of stimuli can bolster your physical health. Blue light-blocking glasses can reduce issues from computer screens. Some earplugs can reduce the loudest noises while still keeping you able to hear patients.

●      Get Regular Tests

One of your most powerful tools in maintaining the physical health of your senses is regular tests and checkups. As a medical professional, you know how important it is to identify potential issues early on. Getting your sight and hearing tested annually can mean you can benefit from early insights and professional guidance.

Enabling Full Mobility

You need your full mobility as a nurse. In most roles, you will be spending all day on your feet, sometimes rushing around and dealing with emergency scenarios. You may also be lifting and supporting patients at times. As such, maintaining your physical health can mean you benefit from a full range of motion. This also reduces the potential that you’ll injure yourself from pushing your physical limits.

Some approaches to this could include:

●      Joint Exercises

It is not unusual for nurses to find their joints are uncomfortable due to the amount of physical pressure the role entails. There are specific exercises you can perform to manage and relieve the symptoms of joint pain, even if you’re experiencing rheumatoid arthritis. Isometric lunges can strengthen the knees, while wall slides can address shoulder pain. Alongside preventing further damage to your joints, these exercises are convenient to perform throughout your workday.

●      Swimming

Regularly taking time in the water is an excellent approach to achieving full mobility. Even if you find you experience joint pain or have weight-related challenges, swimming can be a low-pressure way to keep healthy. There is a lower effect of gravity on your body and you can find you’re able to exercise for longer. As such, it is well-suited to gradually building and maintaining your continued mobility.

Conclusion

Being a nurse can put some significant strain on various areas of your wellbeing. Maintaining your physical health can mean you’re able to provide your patients with the best level of care. More importantly, there are opportunities to ensure you don’t suffer from your commitment to serving the community. With some small but impactful adjustments, you can enjoy your nursing career and peak wellness.

 

Community Pop-ups Founder KaSheta Jackson Wins ANA Innovation Award

Community Pop-ups Founder KaSheta Jackson Wins ANA Innovation Award

When KaSheta Jackson, DNP, RN, received a phone call telling her that she had won the Individual Nurse Award, one of the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) Innovation Awards, sponsored by Stryker, she says that she was speechless and shocked.

Jackson, who is the Vice President of Health Equity and Social Impact for Vidant Health in Greenville, North Carolina, says that she didn’t expect to win. “I knew the chance of winning was slim, but at least we would receive feedback to make this innovation better in the future. The feedback would help us improve the Community Pop-ups, [and] that was worth the submission.”

We interviewed Jackson about her program—what it is, who it has helped, and more.

KaSheta Jackson, DNP, RN

KaSheta Jackson, DNP, RN

When, why, and how did you develop “Community Pop-Ups: A Rural Approach.” When was the program actually implemented? Do you know how many people it has helped?

Our innovation started as a means to provide basic education and vaccinations in communities with low trust and hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first Community Pop-up started April 24 in Dream Park. Team members and leaders from different organization/agencies provided services in non-traditional locations. We emphasized “unity” in the naming for events due to the goal of strengthening partnerships and reducing historical anxieties.

It’s hard to give exact numbers of how many people we have helped, but we know they provided care to more than 400 community participants, gave away 500 produce boxes, and delivered 500 health passports in rural locations across Eastern North Carolina. We collaborated with a local wireless company to offer free cellphones for eligible participants, with public assistance programs, like Medicaid or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

What is a health passport?

In July, Vidant launched a campaign called “Get your health back on track.” This campaign focuses on providing participants health care passports that showed age-specific/gender-specific screening schedules such as cervical cancer, mammograms, and colorectal cancer screening. The campaign provided a booklet with a checklist of all screenings by age and gender, as well as how to access MyChart and virtual health care visits. The health care visit app called VidantNOW offered primary care through the telemedicine capabilities free of charge. These booklets were provided at the Community Pop-ups along with matching tee shirts.

 How does this program work? What groups of people are helped? Why kind of care do they get? Do they make appointments or just drop in? Please explain. 

The Community Pop-up clinic occurs by community request and/or data assessment to create healthier communities through increasing access to health care, providing jobs, removing barriers, and addressing social, economic, and environmental factors. Participants can see a health care professional and get tests such as blood pressure and glucose monitoring, as well as information on advanced care planning, organ donation, and Mental Health resources, Covid vaccines, Covid testing, sign-up for health benefits, and employment opportunities are available also. No appointments needed. We use social media and both formal and informal leaders to spread the information. Our Pop-ups are helping individuals in rural Eastern North Carolina.

Why do you think that this model is important? How does it benefit the communities it serves in ways that other programs can’t?

This model is important due to limited resources (transportation, food, medical services, and other health resources) throughout the United States. The impact our innovation had on outcomes, safety, quality, experience of patients and staff were redefining relationships with formal and informal community leaders, reestablishing our stance as community partners, listening to concerns, and instilling pride in care team.

We met with community and faith leaders to understand what was needed in their communities. Rural residents often encounter barriers to health care that limit their ability to obtain sufficient access, so they historically have trust issues with health care. Having support from the community leaders encouraged more innovation efforts to focus on more than just health care. We understood education was essential hence seeking community colleges to partner at Community to showcase their programs. By collaborating with community leaders, providing resources they deem as valuable, and collaborating with other agencies who also have needed resources, we are addressing access through local channels and building trust as well as community ownership, which creates a generational standard for better quality of life.

In addition to coming up with the program, did you participate in it?   

This program was a hands-on program. I participated in every event except one over the 6-month period. From planning, designing, and coordinating, I was involved in every detail—but never alone in the planning. I was fortunate to have amazing peers who became dear friends to partner with like Shantell Cheek MAEd, RN, Director of Uninsured Programs, and Koai Martin, MHA, Administrative Resident, just to name a couple.

What was your favorite part about this whole experience? How was it to see that a program you developed ended up helping so many people?  

My favorite part of the whole experience is seeing the Community Pop-ups come together. It’s humbling and magical.

Anything else?

Our innovation has empowered many nurses to think and behave differently with regards to changing health care delivery and where care is delivered. By aligning community and the health care system, we are addressing social, economic, equity, and population health—which will be a win-win for all involved.

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