Nursing students deliver tailored program for local teens

Four nursing students from the Southern Cross University, Imran Salad, Rachael Moss, Philippa Dennewald and Rebekah Boss, have been working with Cobar High School staff to create a new community health education program.

A group of nursing students from Southern Cross University has been working on  a new health promotion specially designed for Cobar High School students.

The third year nurses from the University’s Gold Coast and Lismore campuses have spent the past three weeks in Cobar working with the school community to design and implement a tailored health program which will target female students in Years 9 and 10.

The program is part of an inter professional experience placement program run by the Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health–Far Western and Southern Cross University with a number of other Southern Cross University health students also currently on placement in the Bourke, Lightning Ridge and Goodooga communities.

The health education program to be implemented at Cobar High School has a focus on protection, prevention and the improvement of students’ health.

Southern Cross University nursing students Philippa Dennewald and Rebekah Boss spoke about the work they had been doing at the school.

“Our placement at Cobar High School is a bit different from a normal clinical setting. Rural health is also different to regional health, you just don’t see that difference in the classroom,” Philippa said.

Rebekah said they immersed themselves in the community over the past three weeks in order to identify the health needs.

They then based their program on feedback and observations they had made.

The students also worked to a directive from the school requesting that the focus be on mental health and nutrition.

As part of their research, the nursing students also spoke one-on-one to school students to ask them what their biggest concerns were.

“This has helped us to develop a strategy to help improve the general health and wellbeing,” Rebekah said.

The new education program will be rolled out in the school by the school’s counsellor, Sarah Barber, with the support of the girls advisor and their year advisors.

The program aims to help the students to develop better social and communication skills and teach them how to better interact and talk to each other.

It also covers drug and alcohol safety, shows the students time management skills and study techniques, and gives them tips on how to put aside distractions and get into the right frame of mind to study.

The program also points students in the direction of help if they need it.

“It also teaches them about femininity and why it’s special to be a female,” Philippa said.

“The activities are all done in a group.

“They meet every couple of months.

“They have an agenda, chose a topic they want to discuss and they work through discussion questions and activities.”

Philippa said it was important that the program be sustainable and so they have created enough content for it to run for two years.

She said their templates are also flexible so that new content can be added or adjusted as needed.

“The school counsellor can also evaluate whether they worked well for the school or not,” she said.

Rebekah said from a nursing perspective, the placement had been a great way to get an insight into community health and how health promotion strategies could be initiated and implemented.

She believes the students and staff will find the program very worthwhile.

“For me now as an adult, I wish someone would have told me this sort of information when I was younger,” she said.

Philippa said the group has very enjoyed their time spent in Cobar.

“Cobar’s a great little town, we’ve felt welcome everywhere we have gone,” she said.