McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

New east-end clinic for nursing students to learn "makes perfect sense"

By Amanda Boundris
Published: July 17, 2013
Terri Bedminster, Catherine Tompkins and Steven Rolfe
From left: Terri Bedminster, director of operations for Refuge; Catherine Tompkins, associate dean of Health Sciences and director, School of Nursing; Steven Rolfe, assistant clinical professor with the nursing school and director of policy and planning at Homestead

The McMaster School of Nursing, in partnership with the Refuge: Hamilton Centre for Newcomer Health (HNCH) and Homestead Christian Care, has opened a new clinical teaching facility at the Perkins Centre in east Hamilton to provide health care for newcomers to Canada.

Some fourth-year nursing students will do their clinical placements at the Refuge clinic, working alongside a nurse practitioner (NP) and volunteer nurses to provide health services to refugees and new immigrants.

"The School of Nursing is known to be quite innovative in its approach to learning, and so it makes perfect sense that students learn in the community and work with the people they will eventually serve," said Terri Bedminster, director of operations for Refuge.

More than 300 nursing students have taken classes at the nursing school's community site housed within the Perkins Centre since it opened in 2011. Various classes are held there move nursing students into the community where they can see first-hand the role of nursing in community development and health promotion.

Refuge's original location is on Hughson Street. The opening of their second clinic comes at a time when recent federal budget cuts have made it more difficult for some newcomers to access health care.

"It was always our dream to have an opportunity to provide service in this area through a health clinic," said Catherine Tompkins, associate dean of Health Sciences and director of the School of Nursing. "It's important because it's an underserviced area and a high-needs population, especially with the recent cuts."

A large number of newcomers to Canada reside in the area around the Perkins Centre, so the facility is "innovative in providing local access" to this population of patients, said Steven Rolfe, assistant clinical professor with the nursing school and director of policy and planning at Homestead. "The placement of the clinic in the east end is ideal. We thought this would be a great place to learn and to provide service."

Olive Wahoush, McMaster's assistant dean of undergraduate nursing education, said: "It's a wonderful opportunity to address such a significant need in our community and students will learn about the challenges newcomers face."

Bedminster said that Wahoush was "instrumental in bringing this to fruition with her forward-thinking ways."

Students will be sharpening their primary care nursing skills by performing health histories and assessments, vaccinations, and learning more about care in culturally diverse situations, disease prevention, health promotion, building community links, and social determinants of health.

"It's great exposure for the students. There's the multicultural aspect and getting to see the role of the NP. Hopefully in the future we can have teams of students — undergraduate and NP students — working together out of the clinic," said Tompkins.

"The opportunity in partnering with Refuge was to create real educational experiences for nursing students in an emerging field. These experiences are grounded in social justice," said Rolfe. "They're gaining a good understanding about how health policy has a direct impact on people's lives."

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