The Nursing and Rural Health Unit of the Centre for Regional Engagement (CRE) at Whyalla and Mt Gambier campuses prepares students to become first-level registered nurses. The Unit is also committed to promoting and improving the health of the communities it serves. Health promotion and education are embedded in various courses in the curriculum and both students and lecturers participate in health-promoting activities for the wider community in order to link the classroom to real-life problems and community needs.
For the past eight years, students - under staff supervision - have been conducting health fairs in regional and remote areas of South Australia and, more recently, lecturers have extended similar activities to religious communities and community organisations. The health fairs, which present an exciting and unique opportunity for community outreach and engagement, aim to provide free health assessment and early detection of health problems, increase awareness of the impact of lifestyle choices on good health, allow students to put theory into practice, and contribute to the general health and well-being of the communities in which we operate.
A typical two-day health fair consists of: a health check, which involves various body measurements, such as body mass index, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels; a health inventory; individualised health education based on the health check results; and referral to health professionals or facility as appropriate. Health education covers topics such as nutrition, exercise, relaxation and stress management, alcohol and other harmful substances, sexual and mental health, and medical conditions related to lifestyle. The content and format of the health fair varies depending on the curriculum requirements, student preparation, and previous community evaluations.
Evaluation and outcomes of health fairs
Over 2000 community members have participated in our health fairs to date. Post-health fair feedback from community members and students has been consistently good. Results of evaluations and anecdotal reports by participating community members revealed that this initiative was ‘empowering' and ‘an excellent service to the community'. The students reported that they gained an opportunity for real-life learning and skills practice.
This initiative is a solid example of a university campus engaging with the community in ways that are responsive, mutually beneficial, and collaborative. Our Unit intends to continue conducting health fairs on a regular basis.
Phone: +61 8 8647 26068