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Clinics, Camps & Community Women’s Health – Graduate Students Lend A Helping Hand
By: Chris Diorio
Rosanne Pruitt spent a majority of her professional career working with underserved populations and community health. She specializes in community health nursing and primary care, and she followed her own personal philosophy into those fields. “I love service-learning,” explained Pruitt, “and if I made the world a better place then it means I was a success.” When the opportunity came along to expand Clemson’s community sites to the graduate program, Pruitt started an encompassing program that allowed her students to partake in every aspect of community health, ranging from the South Carolina State Senate house to her patients’ homes.
Pruitt partnered with the Sullivan Center, an academic, nurse-managed health center at Clemson University, with the goal of expanding their capability so every graduate student in every clinical course would have a service-learning experience with an underserved population. In order to offer the proper learning experience, Pruitt chose to work with the Best Chance Network clinics – a group of medical clinics that offers free services such as breast and cervical cancer screenings to patients in need. Every graduate student taking women’s health had the opportunity to spend at least one day providing health care services to low income women, an opportunity Pruitt believes offered valuable experience for students who traditionally only learn from behind a classroom desk.
“I love service-learning,” explained Pruitt, “and if I made the world a better place then it means I was a success.”
“The students learn about all aspects of the program and participate in the assessment and clinical exam. They have an opportunity to work with interpreters and others to help the women set personal health goals,” Pruitt explained. She described the gratitude the patients showed her students, and she believes that experiencing and understanding those feelings is very important for potential doctors and nurses. Supporting this same cause, Pruitt also teaches a course in the spring semester that allows students to provide care in either free or rural health clinics.
In order to provide as many different service-learning experiences as possible, Pruitt also created a partnership between the Sullivan Center and the Boy Scouts of America. This partnership allows students to provide free sports and scout camp physicals for Boy Scouts and their leaders in the fall and late spring semesters.
While the experience of working in the field is valuable in order for students to understand what a career in healthcare might offer, Pruitt believes that understanding lawmakers and policies that influence their profession is equally important. In order to create an all-encompassing service-learning program, Pruitt also works with graduate nurse practitioner students to set up lobbying initiatives supporting a current bill in the South Carolina House and Senate.
According to Doctor Pruitt, “This bill would allow nurse practitioners to provide care in the very rural areas of the state. Currently, outreach has been restricted with supervision guidelines so that nurse practitioners can only provide care if there is a physician who can serve as a supervisor close by, which creates barriers for the more rural counties in our state. The goal of this initiative is to facilitate care for medically underserved communities in our state. Pruitt has already led one successful trip to the South Carolina House to promote the presence of her nurse practitioners. “The senators acknowledged our presence to our group after the session was over. They said us being there really helped support the cause and they appreciated our involvement,” Pruitt said.
“The senators acknowledged our presence to our group after the session was over. They said us being there really helped support the cause and they appreciated our involvement,” Pruitt said.
“In the policy course I was able to attend a legislative session at the South Carolina State House,” said graduate teaching assistant Jill McCreight. “This interactive learning experience increased my understanding of how I can be more influential in the political process. I not only look forward to participating in health care legislation, but also other areas of policy that contribute to our state.”
According to Pruitt, the program is far from over if students continue to work towards helping others. “Seeing that light turn on in that student where you understand that they get that appreciation for helping those in need, that’s my favorite part of this program,” Pruitt concluded. It’s easy to see her optimism for the future.
Written By: Christopher Diorio
Chris Diorio graduated with a Communications Studies major in spring 2015. He is from Middletown, New Jersey. On Clemson’s campus he was the Assistant Director of Organizations for CUSG, a senator on the Finance and Procedures committee for our undergraduate student senate, and the Vice President of Recruitment of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.