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Julie Novak and students

School of Nursing illustrates the benefits of service learning

April 2010

Unlike community service work, service-learning activities incorporate curriculum objectives, as well as student planning, critical thinking and reflection, into a continuing project that benefits the community.

The School of Nursing's service-learning projects during fiscal year 2008-2009:
  • Contributed $7.4 million worth of uncompensated care
  • Benefited 200 community agencies
  • Represented a $951,985 increase in uncompensated care over the previous academic year

Although most of the School of Nursing service-learning projects are in San Antonio, the school has offered a summer international nursing elective for four years led by Janice Rice, M.S.N., RN, and Lyda Arevalo-Flechas, Ph.D., M.S.N., RN. Working through nonprofit organizations and with other U.S. health care professionals, the faculty and students set up temporary surgical units providing non-stop procedures in Mexico and Guatemala. In summer 2009, one of the elective sections was moved to Cochabamba, Bolivia, with a focus on community health. The nursing students taught preventive health practices and first-response emergency procedures to police officers, firefighters, nurses and doctors.

  group of nurses in training session
(Top photo) The School of Nursing will soon be placing more emphasis on regional and international service learning with the arrival in September 2009 of Julie Novak, D.N.Sc., RN, CPNP, FAANP, the Thelma and Joe Crow Endowed Professor and associate dean for practice and engagement. Formerly professor and head of the Purdue University School of Nursing and director of service-learning innovation and scholarship in Purdue's Center for Instructional Excellence, Dr. Novak has developed and implemented international projects in Russia, Estonia, Mexico, the Philippines and South Africa. She plans to continue a service-learning project she began at Purdue in South Africa with UT Health Science Center students in August.

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