Being a nurse is more than working a 12-hour shift in the hospital. It’s also about getting out and giving back to their community.
The Denver Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) is partnering with Vuela for Health and other community organizations for a health fair on Sunday, February 4 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Denver.
Theresa Nino, RN, MSN, CCRN, and Patrick Luna, RN, MSN, CEN, are both senior instructors of undergraduate programs at the University of Colorado College of Nursing at Anschutz Medical Campus and are members of NAHN.
Both Luna and Nino hold leadership positions in NAHN and say this event is about nurses collaborating with other professionals to provide health education and screenings for Denver's Latino community.
“Providing these convenient health education opportunities is often what the community needs. It is important to understand that often not everyone can miss work, they can’t take kids out of school to go to see providers,” Nino says. “It makes an overwhelming impact when we go to where they are, where they can see us, and we look like them, we speak their language and create immediate trusting connections. It becomes obvious to the community that we care and are here for them. People are more apt to participate and get the care they need by someone that represents them.”
The health fair will provide services and resources including vaccines, cancer screenings, blood pressure screenings, information on organ donation, and CPR training. NHLN hosted several vaccine events before the pandemic, but this is the first time the Denver chapter is co-hosting a health fair.
Luna and Nino say it’s important for nurses to get out into the community to break the stigma of hierarchy in healthcare systems and to form a trusting relationship between nurses and their patients.
“When I go to these events I see my family, I see my uncles, my aunts and my cousins and my grandparents,” Luna says. “It brings me a sense of satisfaction that I can contribute to these communities that are ultimately my own.”
Getting Students Involved
Bringing healthcare screenings and resources to the community is one reason why CU Nursing students and recent grads are volunteering. Spanish-speaking students will help translate information and other students will help with screenings, education and offer other resources.
Asiah Thompson, a student in CU Nursing’s Traditional BS in Nursing (TRAD) program, is one of the students volunteering. She wanted to volunteer to learn about the patient population she will be serving once she graduates.
CU Nursing student Asiah Thompson is one of the volunteers at Sunday's health fair.
“It’s an amazing cause to be able to help underserved populations who wouldn’t otherwise have access to this type of care or health screenings. It’s a very rewarding feeling,” she says. “I’m excited to help. It’s going to be great seeing people taking the chance to get the health screenings and care they need.”
Thompson says it’s important for the college to offer volunteer opportunities so students can get hands-on experience outside of the classroom.
“It gives us insight on populations that some of us might never have encountered in our previous work or our clinicals,” she says. “It’s always a good thing to have these experiences so we can better suit individuals we may see during our nursing career, and this health fair will really provide those tools.”
“I think it’s important for them to see the impact of going to someone’s community, going to their church, and become directly involved with someone in their environment,” Luna says.
Students have an opportunity to volunteer through a community health course, but those opportunities are more structured and formal compared to a health fair.
“These opportunities are more of a hierarchical structure, where patients are entering our place, so this gives students a chance to have a much more relaxed interaction with patients,” Luna says. “And I think more information settings are something nurses should see as a frontier, something we can have a lot more space in.”
“Having an RN at the end of my name provides privilege. The question becomes what will you do with your privilege? Much of the solution is looking at your privilege and deciding how to use it for the greater good,” Nino says. “For me, I want to give back and share with students an understanding of the power of caring, and the beauty of connecting and making a difference for others.”
The NAHN health fair is Sunday, February 4 from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at 1209 W. 36th Avenue (near 36th & Kalamath) in Denver. The event is free.