Summer camp – It’s a time of sports, crafts, and field trips.
This year, for a group of Houston children, it was also a time to take charge of their health. And for one nursing student, summer camp provided the opportunity to be a leader and make a real difference in her community.
Billie Bowman has worked in health care for many years, primarily as a nursing assistant. She came to Chamberlain College of Nursing to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree because, as she put it, “I wanted more for myself and for my family. Also, I knew that in order for me to better provide healthcare services to people I needed to become educated.”One of the final classes in the curriculum, NR-442 Community Nursing, requires students to synthesize much of what they have learned in other courses and apply it in a community setting. Bowman decided to do that by organizing a “Health Day” for children ages 6-13.
It began as a modest project. Her original plan was to work with a small group of fellow Chamberlain students and have a small health education program at the summer camp her eight-year-old son was attending.
“But it ended up being larger than what I intended,” Bowman said. “So many students wanted to be involved, and really experience community health and understand the importance of educating our community on being healthy.”
In the end, she headed up a group of 14 nursing students to lead activities for the 80 children at the camp.
It was a new experience for Bowman, who has worked as a nursing assistant for the VA for almost 10 years.
“As a nurse assistant, I have always worked under someone. So for me to have organized something of this caliber, it taught me a lot about managing time and managing groups.”
Bowman and the other Chamberlain students divided the kids into age-appropriate groups, gave presentations, played health-related games and awarded prizes. They also gave out goody bags with sunscreen, toothpaste, jump ropes and other things for healthy living.
Goody bags and prizes aside, she said, “The thing that surprised me most was how willing the children were and how motivated they were to be healthy.”
Bowman finished her program of study in October, topping it off with an impressive score of 1051 on the HESI Exit Exam. She’ll be crossing the stage at the Houston campus commencement ceremony in December. After passing the NCLEX, Billie plans to work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as an RN. She has found a calling in community nursing and hopes to find opportunities to continue this kind of work with her patients.
“I feel that the better we can educate people, the better their chances are, and the better the outcome is for them,” she said.