Published February 17, 2023
Students and faculty provided dental and health care to a rural community in Tennessee.
Members of the UB community once again travelled to Knoxville, TN, January 13-15 with Remote Area Medical (RAM), a major nonprofit provider of free pop-up clinics. Their mission is to provide free, quality health care to underserved and underinsured community members.
This most recent trip included 11 senior undergraduate nursing students – the largest group of nursing students to take part in a RAM mission so far – along with four nursing faculty, 13 dental students, two dental faculty and one dental resident.
Accelerated bachelor’s (ABS) degree student Ayesha Javed these experiences help nursing students understand the importance of providing holistic, person-centered care.
“It was so gratifying to help relieve patients of their pain and suffering in a very immediate way, whether it was a tooth that needed pulling or helping someone get their medications organized and updated,” Javed says. “I'm glad I got to meet these patients and hear their stories firsthand. The experience will help guide my approach to nursing because it showed me that advocacy starts within our own communities by caring first for our most vulnerable neighbors."
The opportunity to work with an altruistic organization like RAM, and to gain perspective and experience by serving a diverse population, inspired Megan Chapin to join the mission. “The RAM trip was only two days but provided an invaluable look at the health care needs of underserved and at-risk communities,” she says. “The … experience is beneficial [in] helping build a greater understanding of community needs and how the experiences of different individuals can alter their health needs.”
Traditional track student Andrew Yang says the mission helped him to broaden his perspective and cultural consciousness. He adds, “The experience will help my perspective in how to better work with people from other health care professionals in a clinical setting. In addition, it has greatly improved my ability to triage, treat and communicate [with] any future patients I will be working with.”
Nursing students gained hands-on experience in triage – including taking vital signs; reviewing medical and surgical history and medications; and providing immunizations – and assisting UB dental students. RAM volunteers provided 978 patients with $603,013 of health services over the course of the weekend.
“I would definitely recommend this experience to other nursing students,” Yang says. “It is a perfect chance to learn and help people who are not as fortunate as we are, and the process was extremely fulfilling and rewarding for me. Students will find that experiences like these are what shapes their values and virtues in the future.”