The Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis (VNA) is committed to caring for the whole person. This is a mission they share with St. Louis University’s (SLU) School of Nursing, which seeks to educate the whole person, so that students can enter the field of nursing and treat patients with that same philosophy in mind. This made it a natural fit for the two organizations to partner with each other, a partnership that has existed for almost five years.
Each semester, students in SLU’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program are sent to work with VNA as a part of their nursing practicum. The goal of this practicum is for students to foster growth and development while adapting to different surroundings in the community and providing culturally sensitive care to diverse populations. This is with the aim of students getting to a place where they’re able to function independently and take ownership of their learning.
Students are chosen to work with VNA by Deb Horton, RN, Assistant Professor at SLU’s School of Nursing. ABSN students study with her over the summer, and during this time, Deb gets to know them and selects students whose passions and interests align with VNA’s work.
Typically, students work with VNA’s Advanced Illness Management, Hospice, Visit-A-Bit and Wellness & Vaccination programs. They support home visits, case management and administration of flu and COVID-19 vaccines. Wherever VNA needs help, SLU nursing students are happy to jump in.
Deb is happy that students get the opportunity to work with a nonprofit through this long-standing partnership. “It allows students to see ways different organizations are run,” says Deb. “Smaller organizations tend to be more interdisciplinary, which helps students understand a team approach and that it’s not just one person doing things but a whole team. Everyone pitches in and helps each other, which is great!”
Deb also sees a lot of value in SLU students working with VNA specifically. “I think looking at the mission and vision of VNA, their focus on service, teamwork and community leadership ties in nicely with what we’re trying to teach students [at SLU]... They keep everything at the highest quality of care, and we want to match that excellence by fostering the highest quality of student.”
SLU and VNA are thankful for each other and their shared commitment to invest in the next generation of nurses. “It really is a win-win for both SLU and VNA,” says Deb. “We’re helping each other fulfill our missions.”