The Impact of Collaborative, Community-Based Care
Summer experiences brought further focus to senior Stephanie Harvey’s nursing career plans. As a rising junior, she completed a 3-week program, Summer Medical Institute, in Philadelphia. The 26 participants (students in nursing, pre-med, physician assistant, physical therapy and medical school programs) lived and worked in the Kensington section of the city, which is experiencing the opioid crisis firsthand, and went door-to-door performing free health screenings while connecting people to sustainable services in the community. Stephanie reflects that the institute “has grown my heart for community and public health. I learned the importance of learning about the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ behind a person’s health.”
Building on that exposure, Stephanie applied for the Independence Blue Cross (IBC) Foundation Nursing Internship. She was placed at 11th Street Family Health Services in North Philadelphia, a nurse-led center offering primary care, dental and behavioral health services as well as free community health promotion programs, serving patients from the area’s public housing neighborhood. Her primary role was to facilitate a reading and creative play program on Thursdays, organized in partnership with a branch of the city’s library system, to encourage parents to read and engage with their children. “My favorite craft was a cut-out person that the children dressed up in cloth and yarn in their ideal occupations. It was so encouraging to hear the children talk about everything they aspire to be. They felt their possibilities were endless,” Stephanie explains. Stephanie also shadowed healthcare providers and presented a capstone poster: Low literacy rates in Philadelphia: What is the nurse's role?
Seeing the critical benefits of holistic care that she learned about across four years of the nursing curriculum was meaningful. “Because of Villanova, I was exposed to the importance of caring for the entire person – which includes their entire family. Through my experiences, I have learned so much about the deep intricacies that go into a person’s health,” Stephanie says. “I have found that nearly all health habits form at a young age in the family unit. Moving forward, I hope to affect these habits by becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner or a midwife in the community setting.”