In addition to keeping on top of her studies, University of Tulsa bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) sophomore Laura Nichols spent winter 2019 spearheading development of training videos for childcare workers in Nigeria. This work is a collaborative effort amongst TU’s School of Nursing, the TU Student Nurses’ Association (TUSNA) and Little Light House, a Tulsa charity that provides educational and therapeutic services to young children with special needs.
Across TU, programs emphasize, whenever possible, connections between the university and community partners. At the School of Nursing each year, TUSNA undertakes a community-development project. In January, Little Light House approached TUSNA about creating videos to teach Nigerian workers at an orphanage and school run by Right Steps Inc., a U.S.-registered 501(c)3 that supports women and children in southeast Nigeria. TUSNA members agreed this was a worthy project. As the organization’s service chair, Nichols found herself in charge of organizing her fellow student volunteers, ensuring they wrote their scripts and working with the videographer.
Simple childcare techniques for minimizing disease
“Many of the people who care for children in Nigeria are passionate about their work, but they lack access to the knowledge and skills necessary to minimize disease,” observed Nichols. They also, she noted, face many physical challenges, such as having to draw water from a river contaminated by sewage run-off.
TUSNA’s videos exemplify both community partnership and global connectedness. They cover a range of essential topics, including hand hygiene, diaper-changing, nutrition appropriate to the region and bathing. The Nigerian workers, Nichols explained, “can go through our training program, earn a certificate and work at that orphanage, school or other health care facilities in the area.”
This initiative stands to affect both individuals and their communities, Nichols said. “Studies have shown that with preventative measures in place, you can add a decade to your life. So, this training will change not only the orphanage and school in Nigeria. It’s also going to benefit the community as a whole because these workers are going to take the information home to their families and their villages.”
Network of support and opportunity
In late March, Nichols received a NOVA Fellowship to support the video project. “This fellowship opened more doors for us,” Nichols said. “As a result, we were able to do the professional videography in late April. We then edited the materials and had them to Little Light House by June.”
Nichols continued: “I would really like to thank NOVA, Little Light House, the School of Nursing and TUSNA for helping us make such a great impact across the world. We couldn’t have done it without them, and I’m really excited to see where this will take us.”
Reflecting on the personal benefits, Nichols commented, “I have enjoyed working with Little Light House because I’ve never before been involved in pediatrics or with children who live with disabilities. It’s opened my eyes to other possibilities in nursing, as well as to unmet needs here in Tulsa and all around the world. And the people at Little Light House are so friendly and helpful, and willing to answer all your questions.”
“I hope this project and the partnership between TU and Little Light House continue to grow,” Nichols commented. “Once we have launched the program in Nigeria this fall, we’ll see where we need more videos or training for the workers there. I am hopeful we can add to the project next spring.”
For the more immediate future, Nichols is keenly eyeing a four-week summer internship – arranged through TU’s Center for Global Education – at the government hospital in Arequipa, Peru. For the first half, she will be posted to the hospital’s emergency department, and her last two weeks will be spent in oncology.
“That will be a unique experience, as I’ve never been around an oncology department before,” Nichols noted, “and this hospital has the largest one in South America.” The opportunity to live, learn and work in Peru also appeals to Nichols because, she pointed out, “after graduation I hope to become a global nurse and, perhaps, join the Navy.”