College of Nursing
Meeting The Needs Of The Underserved
Northwest Indiana’s homeless and underserved citizens have some of the most complex healthcare needs–needs that are amplified by such challenges as limited access to providers, lack of insurance or ability to pay, and minimal transportation options.
In response, the College and faculty members Jodi Allen and Corinne Djuric, both family nurse practitioners, voluntarily provide primary health care services to clients at Gary’s Sojourner Truth House. Nursing students assist, gaining priceless experience while at the same time learning valuable lessons about interactions among social determinants of health.
Students provide health screenings; obtain health histories, assess vital signs; screen for diabetes, high cholesterol, and anemia; and provide patient- centered education. The professors perform physical exams; evaluate the needs of each patient; and provide over-the-counter medication, education, and referrals for continued care as needed.
Working to make a difference—faculty members and student nurses serving together—provides multiple benefits and amazing opportunities for students. As Sojourner Executive Director Sr. Peg Spindler put it: “PNW nursing students are the missing link in access to health care for our clients. We are grateful for this ongoing partnership and glad it can provide a well-rounded education for students.”
Making A Difference
College faculty members and students serve some 1,600 community clients a year with screenings and physical assessments. More than half of these clients showed abnormalities for which students and faculty provided referrals.
Our undergraduate and graduate students build upon the theories of culture and vulnerable populations they learn in didactic courses and experience firsthand, the day-to-day struggles of vulnerable populations, the environmental impact on health and an enhanced professional commitment to deliver care to all.
Other College faculty members care for the underserved by practicing in six regional clinics.
Expanding The Scope Of Care
Faculty members Allen and Djuric are attempting to make an even greater impact at Sojourner Truth House and other similar facilities by pushing to change professional licensing rules in Indiana.
While as family nurse practitioners Professors Allen and Djuric are prepared and qualified to prescribe medications to clients, current state law prevents them from realizing their full scope of practice unless they have a collaborative agreement with a physician.
If faculty members such as Allen and Djuric, in collaboration with other advance practice nurses, can influence lawmakers to change the law, better health care will be provided to the most underserved individuals in northwest Indiana.