Nursing School Students Learn about End of Life Struggles

Students at a nursing school in Richmond, Minnesota are learning first-hand the struggle we will all face in the latter years of our life.

The nursing school of Saint Benedict has provided a rare chance for their students to create a lasting bond with elderly patients while garnering lessons about the experience of aging directly from the source.

The students are placed with an elderly couple living in a community facility and are required to report back about their experiences with their patients.

The students do not carry out any nursing duties, rather they ask health related questions, perform safety inspections, and just get to know them and their health conditions. How it affects them, how it feels, and how they feel.

The program was created by Denise Meijer and Kathy Twohy, faculty members at the college. Both Meijer and Twohly have been awarded for their efforts in this program, holding the honor of “Outstanding Faculty Learning About Geriatrics” as awarded to them by the Minnesota Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing.

The duo at the nursing college created the program as a result of under-filled role of nursing students in the areas dealing with elderly patients. Students participate in the program for two years

“With our aging society, there is a definite need for nursing students who are interested in gerontology. We think it’s important for our students to see older adults living in their own homes,” Meijer said.

This is the first year of the program and so far, it has been a success with four students participating. Three new students make up the second group from the nursing school to start the program this year.

In addition to their visits, professor meetings, and reports they must write a thesis that focuses on gerontological research. Upon completion of their study in geriatrics, the nursing school students graduate with a Distinction the Major – Gerontology.