As part of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) Nursing Department’s commitment to serving the public, nine students in the Practical Nursing program traveled to the Manu’a islands of Ofu and Olosega in mid-November to conduct their yearly Community Outreach Project as a component of the class NUR 180L (Introduction to Adult Health). The Nursing students, accompanied by instructor Lele Ah Mu, divided into teams to give presentations to the Ofu and Olosega community on five prominent health concerns - Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes Mellitus, Gout, and Nutrition, and to provide basic screening services in these areas for residents who wished to be tested.
The ASCC student nurses covered the causes, prevention, pharmacological and non-pharmacological management of complications arising from the four health conditions, and the role diet in maintaining good health. To compliment their presentations, each team also put together a poster and pamphlets on their respective subject areas to share with individual clients. Posters used for the presentations and extra pamphlets have been left with the Ofu Pentecostal Church and its members for future reference by the community.
The outreach project accounts for 20% of the student nurse’s clinical grade, and is intended to develop their leadership and organizational skills as they focus on the planning and preparation for their Manu’a visit. Organizing their oral presentations, posters and handouts engage the students in research and give them the opportunity to strengthen their own health teaching skills as they bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and one-on-one practice.
The students themselves lead the community outreach project through making a problem assessment of the chosen community, designing presentation methods through objectives and assessment, and evaluating their own teaching during their presentations through simple questions or activities. At the conclusion of the community outreach, the students each writes a Reflection Paper in which they evaluate their own learning as well as the effects on their own career of their participation in the project.
For many of the student nurses, serving the Ofu and Olosega community, which numbers less than 100 but currently has no regular clinic services available, proved an eye-opener. Students Toetu’ua Iosefa and her partner June Faapue-Fuiava focused their efforts on High Blood Pressure, and found a higher number of Ofu and Olosega clients with symptoms of that condition than they expected. “The people who did know they were hypertensive, I learned, had a hard time following a treatment regime because the dispensary does not have a sufficient supply of medication all the time,” recalled Iosefa. “They also said that it’s very difficult to keep coming back and forth to Tutuila for regular check-ups and to get treatment.”
For Iosefa, experiencing the realities of health care on Ofu and Olosega reinforced the urgent need to improve services in even the most remote areas of the Territory. “I used to think that working in the hospital would be good enough, once I become a nurse,” she reflected, “but as we did our projects, it occurred to me that maybe people far from the hospital and clinics need nurses even more, if only to reduce the number of patients in the hospitals and the frequency of hospital visits.”
Student Ruby Salome Fia, tasked with presenting on Diabetes Mellitus, said one of the trip highlights was the reception she and her partner Mautumua Maulupe received at Olosega Elementary School “It was really fun how most students were willing to learn about different diseases, especially those who take care of parents with Diabetes and Hypertension,” she explained. “Plus, we all need exercise, so I was very happy to perform Zumba with my classmate Tualupetu Lauina and the rest of the school. I enjoyed every single moment on the island. The place was very peaceful and people everywhere were so kind to us. I would love to go back to Manu’a and stay. Many people in Ofu and Olosega need help, and I look forward to supporting them.”
Several of the student nurses expressed a similar wish to do more for Manu’a. “This experience affected me in a way that I want to go back in the near future,” said student Ferila Seufalemua. “It made me feel love and affection toward the people there. I know that there is a shortage of nurses here on Tutuila, but the people in Manu’a really need help with their health status. I hope that someday I will be able to visit back and help out the community as a nurse.”
The nine student nurses who made the journey to Manu’a are June Fuiava-Faapue, Ruby Fia, Toetu’ua Iosefa, Tualupetu Lauina, Mautumua Maulupe, Sweetheart Nua, Ferila Seufalemua, Kristal Tautolo and Kimberly Ueligitone. For more information on the ASCC Nursing program, see the ASCC Catalog available online at www.amsamoa.edu.