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Nursing students plan impactful programs at Phoenix community organizations 

May 7, 2024
3 min Read
Erin Sweeney

The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at the Creighton University Health Sciences Campus – Phoenix prepares students to earn their RN license in 12 months. What sets the ABSN program apart is its community program planning project, which captures the Ignatian value of cura personalis (care for the individual person). Each cohort of ABSN students spends time in community organizations across the Valley planning impactful programs, an experience that provides these future nurses with a greater understanding of each person’s dignity and worth.  

Nursing student Mary Baranda spent time at Patina Women’s Wellness Center, a residential substance use treatment center designed to support women and families of Native American tradition. She says, “Our clinical group implemented a program on positive coping strategies to utilize while maintaining sobriety. This experience has truly impacted my growth as a future nurse and helped me become a more well-rounded individual." 

In addition to Patina Women’s Wellness Center, many other community organizations in Phoenix help foster this growth among the nursing students. Advance Community, ARCH, Phoenix Dream Center, Huger Mercy Living Center, International Rescue Committee (IRC), Patina Men's Center, the St. Vincent de Paul Ozanam Manor and the St. Vincent de Paul Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic also host ABSN students for a total of 10 weeks throughout their 12-month program. Students in the program work with diverse populations, from homeless families to memory care patients.  

When the students begin their time at their assigned community organization, they first assess the site’s strengths, weaknesses and priority issues. Once the students have grasped an understanding of the challenges at the site and reviewed scientific research on such challenges, they work with their peers to develop a program that targets the priority issues. They implement the program, collect data on its effectiveness and gather as a cohort at the end of their term to share their findings with peers and faculty.  

This experience has truly impacted my growth as a future nurse and helped me become a more well-rounded individual.
— Mary Baranda, ABSN student at Creighton Health Sciences Campus – Phoenix

Erin Milliken spent time at a health clinic within the IRC, an organization that helps people seeking asylum recover and rebuild their lives. When describing her experience, she says, “My group recognized a need for increased education on Type 2 Diabetes. These individuals were only at the IRC for a few hours to a few days, so we wanted to implement something that could aid them even after they leave the center. Therefore, we created an educational pamphlet in both English and Spanish that provided information on medication adherence, signs of hyper/hypo-glycemia and when to seek medical attention. Overall, the time I spent at the IRC was an eye-opening experience that I will remember for the rest of my life and nursing practice.” 

The community planning project resonated with nursing student Jeff Mooney as well. His group visited the Patina Mountain Preserve Wellness Center (PMPWC), a residential alcohol and substance use treatment center that administers care to men in the Native American community. He says, “I felt very privileged to be allowed to sit in on meetings where these men would share not only about their addictions and traumas but also about their hopes for their future.” 

The community program planning projects allow students to empathize with people in need of support, identify their challenges and develop healthcare solutions to address them. And the students can clearly see their impact on the community. Mooney says, “It was amazing to witness their transformation - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually - over their stay at the center.”