Being touted as the worse flu season this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nursing students at The University of Texas-Pan American did their part to protect the community, particularly children, against seasonal influenza during the month of October as they hosted eight mini health fairs in Hidalgo County.
During the mini health fairs held at elementary schools in Edinburg, McAllen and Hidalgo, UTPA Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students administered approximately 220 seasonal flu vaccines to children as part of their community health class project.
"I think that these types of fairs really give us an opportunity to reach out to the community, especially right now at a time where everybody is really concerned about the flu season," said Crystal Pray, a UTPA senior nursing student.
Pray, who along with a classmate, demonstrated to health fair attendees at IDEA Quest Academy in Edinburg on Oct. 13, how to properly wash their hands to protect themselves from the flu, said these types of hands-on projects are helping her get exposure to the public health profession.
"Many nurses don't choose to go into the public health profession but I think this is a great opportunity to see what it really is about and how you can impact the lives of students," Pray said.
In addition, the UTPA nursing students brought in representatives from home health care agencies and community organizations to distribute information at the health fairs.
As part of the class project, the students also teamed up with the Texas A&M University School of Public Health to help identify children with asthma at the health fairs.
"There are a lot of students in schools that have asthma or are undiagnosed and perhaps are not treated appropriately. The goal was to have health education for that purpose so that people would know if they had it and know how to take care of it," said Dr. Sandy Sanchez, BSN program coordinator.
Sanchez said class projects, such as the health fairs, are designed to familiarize nursing students with the public health arena in the health care profession.
"It's exposing them to what's outside the hospital world," Sanchez said.
To learn more about the UTPA Department of Nursing, visit www.utpa.edu/nursing.