Nursing Students Without Borders-Worcester Wins Community Engagement Award at Annual Leadership Awards Presentation


On April 13, the MCPHS University Worcester campus held their Student Government Association’s Annual Leadership Awards. The Annual Leadership Awards is an opportunity to recognize students and student groups that played many different kinds of leadership roles during the academic year. This year, and for the second year in a row, Nursing Students Without Borders (NSWB) won the prestigious Community Engagement Award.

Anthony Lacina, Beats per Minute editor, had an opportunity to chat with Tamara Smith (class of May 2017) and Casey Redler (class of December 2017), Presidents of NSWB during the 2016-2017 academic year. Please read below:

AL: What are some NSWB highlights from 2016-2017? Where there any events that were new for the year?

The 2016-2017 academic year was very busy! During the 2016-2017 academic year, one of our highlights includes service at Florence House, a program for single teen months and their children that offers transitional living in a supportive environment for low income and homeless mothers. At Florence House, we did education on topics such as car seat safety, feeding your baby, baby proofing and safety at home, nutrition for months, and stress management with medication, and mommy and me yoga.

“The girls were hesitant at first to participate in yoga and meditation, but as soon as they saw a cool arm balance, they were inspired to do more! This was a new event for NSWB that I wanted to incorporate because I left San Diego and moved to Worcester for school, where I was a yoga instructor for 6 years” Casey reflected.

In addition to Florence House, in the fall semester, NSWB participated in two drives: Salvation Army Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas gifts for veterans and their families through Project New Hope. We also went to the Hope Lodge, a place where cancer patients and their caregivers can find help and hope when home is far away. Our service there was more relaxation, Reiki, and medication, mixed with art night. Finally, NSWB visited Emanuel Village Senior Assisted Living, a HUD (Housing and Urban Development) low-income senior housing facility, where we provided services of chair yoga, nutrition teaching of beverages, pumpkin painting, and stress management via yoga, mindfulness, and relaxation with healthy smoothies.

“The Glowing Green Smoothie – kale, spinach, ginger, almond, and coconut fruit – to MY surprise was a hit; the seniors at Emanuel Village loved it and kept asking that we come back and do it again” Casey exclaimed.

NSWB added two new events during the spring semester, including a pediatric event at St. Spyridon Preschool in Worcester. At the preschool, NSWB did nutrition education with the preschoolers, hand hygiene with glove germs where students could see how well they were washing their hands, and heart health education where students learned about ways to keep their hearts health and listen to their hearts with stethoscopes. The other new event that NSWB sponsored was opioid epidemic education, Narcan training, and hands-only CPR training events. “We trained other nursing students and then subsequently held an event for all members of the MCPHS-Worcester community” Tamara said.

Over the summer, NSWB will continue working with these organizations to provide service and teach health promotion topics. We are also always looking for new service trips! We are starting to form relationships with Camp Casco, a free all-inclusive summer camp for children with cancer. Some students participated in a resource fair that was held for them, and some students have even applied to be camp counselors over the August summer break. We look forward to volunteering more with this organization.

AL: Reflecting on your service as President of NSWB, how did the year go?

“I am very proud of the new events we were able to begin this semester, especially the preschool service and the Narcan and hands-only CPR training,” Tamara mentioned. “We are trying to find service to meet as many students’ passions as possible. Some students prefer pediatric settings and we want to give them the opportunity to volunteer. There is also a huge opioid epidemic, which is particularly prevalent in the New England area, so it was great we had an opportunity to get information out about the crisis and what to do when someone witnesses an overdose. We enjoyed reaching out to the greater MCPHS-Worcester community about this because students in all disciplines will encounter this crisis in their line of work.”

Tamara continued, “We were also able to do a community service trip to Peru this semester! This was a huge milestone! Every semester, the travel coordinators work so hard to plan domestic and international trips, to which they must be approved by the School and University. With the help from Professors Joanna Bachour and Tricia Murray we were able to do an NSWB trip to Peru!”

Casey Smith added, “I am extremely proud to be part of this program and to follow in the footsteps of the nursing student alumni that created such a strong platform to actively engage with the community – in such a positive way.”

AL: Are there any comments you would like to make about your faculty advisor?

“All of our faculty are supportive of our desire to serve and they regularly take time out of their schedules to be there at events and help with the health promotion planning” Tamara mentioned. “Professor Bachour has always been so great and supportive with our ideas, and in fact, she was instrumental with the events at St. Spyridon and Emanuel Village on top of being our faculty advisor. Professor Bonnie White helped us with Narcan and hands-only CPR training, and Professors Gayle McGinty and Bonnie Laurent worked at the Florence House with us. Finally, Dr. Maria Rosen was our faculty support at Hope Lodge.”

Casey chimed in, “We have the best faculty advisors for this organization, and without Professors Bachour and McGinty, I do not think we would be as successful as we are!”

AL: Do you have any words of wisdom for the next NSWB Executive Board or for new students who are joining MCPHS School of Nursing in September?

Due to the accelerated nature of the 16-month post-baccalaureate nursing program on the Worcester and Manchester campuses, the Executive Boards are set up in a way that provides overlap between the cohorts, which makes for a more cohesive and tight-knit community. Traditionally, students in their second and third semesters will run the show while the students in their final semester (who are focusing on capstone and job hunting) provides support and advice.

Tamara mentioned, “I think all nursing students should join NSWB! If students do not think they will have the time, it really is not too much of a commitment to be a general body member. To be a general body member, students must attend just two meetings per semester, which are held during lunchtime (and lunch is provided!). After that, students can choose how much they wish to be involved.”

Casey said, “It may seem crazy to be part of NSWB – an organization that can take up much time while in an accelerated nursing program – BUT truth be told, the busier you are the more you get done. NSWB brings a great momentum into the curriculum, and even on my longest days at school, after participating in a community outreach event, I have never regretted doing it. The feeling you get when you are out in the community giving back to others is the best feeling in the world, and is precisely why I want to become a nurse: to help others. Show up, get involved, and be the best you can be, because even on your worst day, you have the potential to make someone else’s day better.”

On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the MCPHS School of Nursing, congratulations!

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