Senior Nursing Students Address Community Health Concerns

The future backbones of the primary healthcare industry organize a health fair to educate and empower individuals in their community.

By Sara Makarem

The senior nursing students who organized the open health fair at Byblos High School.
Each informative and interactive booth at the school handled a specific health theme.

As the primary point of contact, nurses not only coordinate patient care in-hospitals with other healthcare providers but also play a crucial role in educating and counseling people in their communities. They relentlessly serve as patient advocates, inspiring individuals to adopt positive health behaviors, undergo regular check-ups, and seek professional medical help when necessary.

Honoring this commitment, and as part of a curriculum aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), senior nursing students at LAU’s Alice Ramez Chagoury School of Nursing took the initiative to organize an open health fair at Byblos High School last month to address prevailing health concerns in the community and promote overall wellbeing to all ages (SDG3).

Drawing from insights gathered from past community needs assessments, resource evaluations, and continual collaboration with affiliated clinical sites, the students chose several themes to elevate awareness about diabetes, hypertension, and colon cancer. In addition, they advised on burn wound care, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and dealing with bullying in schools and at home.

More than 30 nursing students set up several informative and interactive booths at the school, each dedicated to a specific health theme, that attracted visitors of all age groups from the community. They also provided free on-site blood pressure and diabetes tests.

“Considering the low socio-economic conditions in our community,” remarked Maria Naim, a third-year nursing student, “we bear the responsibility of educating as many individuals as possible about the risk factors associated with these health conditions, their causes, and effective ways to manage and address them.”

According to Dr. Bahia Abdallah, assistant professor and nursing program director at the Alice Ramez Chagoury School of Nursing, such an initiative equips students with the practical skills and contextual understanding needed to transition into their roles as registered nurses and professionals. “It serves as a bridge between academia and real-world practice,” she said.

At the same time, said third-year nursing student Raghid Al Sayegh, it is an opportunity “to demonstrate the caliber of LAU’s nursing students and showcase our proficiency in both theoretical knowledge and practical application.”

Through their proactive approach to health promotion and preventive healthcare, community nurses also considerably ease the strain on the healthcare system by empowering communities through education to promote a culture of wellbeing and prevent illnesses, thus reducing their financial burden.

In doing so, “they effectively disseminate critical information and empower individuals with the knowledge needed to manage their health proactively,” said Dr. Rawan Dimachkieh, pediatrics specialist and clinical instructor at the Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine. 

Mrs. Hana Nimer (BA ’13), an LAU alumna and founder of the Colorectal Cancer Awareness Association, SAID NGO, who was also present at the fair, underscored nurses’ essential contribution to amplifying preventive health messages such as public awareness and screening in detecting colon cancer.

“While not involved in (direct) diagnosis,” said LAU Clinical Instructor Zeina El Jordi, “our students bolster the collective health of our society by facilitating referrals and encouraging individuals to seek professional help when needed.”

Nevertheless, by engaging with the community, the students grasp the importance of patient-centered care and gain a sense of the health challenges that need attention.