Nurses smiling

Azusa Pacific University's School of Nursing (SON) partnered with Azusa Unified School District (AUSD) to host eight “Ask-a-Nurse” pop-up events throughout the 2023-2024 school year with the goal of bringing health education and resources to the families of Azusa while giving nursing students a chance to learn about careers in community health. These events have been sponsored by a grant from the Canyon City Foundation.

Rather than having a clinical building, the SON attended community events including open houses and fairs held at schools throughout AUSD including Paramount Elementary, Charles H. Lee Elementary, Murray Elementary, and Valleydale Elementary. “Our aim was to bring the wellness center to where people already are to give easier access than if they came to us,” said Diane Newman, grants administrator and director of the Neighborhood Wellness Center.

The Neighborhood Wellness Center was established for nursing students to serve during their community rotations. Members of the community receive health education, group exercise, weight management lessons, and blood pressure checks.

Partnership events like these have allowed the SON to serve the community. The SON has also partnered with a vaccine clinic which allows them to administer vaccines at the events. In the fall semester they offered flu shots, and this semester they are offering Covid shots and vaccines necessary for school age children. Families can also receive physical and mental health clinic referrals as well as social service information.

“We’re focusing on prevention before treatment,” said Valerie Ver, a junior nursing major. “We communicate and explain to people how they can prevent getting to the point where acute care is needed. I’m learning how to engage in an effective way with community members.”

The pop-ups focused on accessibility for the community. “Easy access for families is essential,” said Paul Hernandez, Director of Student Support Services for AUSD. “Once people have this information, they can appropriately advocate for themselves.” When planning the events, Newman took into account that “people may lack transportation or experience a language barrier,” and the pop-ups helped remove these barriers while providing health services.

Opportunities to form personal connections within the community have been impactful for SON students.

“A big part of faith is serving others, and through these events I get to see from the perspective of community members,” Ver said. “The comfortable environment allows me to make valuable connections with the people I serve.”

The events have given AUSD nurses the chance to make connections with families as well. “Some parents don’t know what we do,” AUSD nurse Gema Bonaifacio said. “When they talk to us at the events, they are able to put names to faces and see that we are here for them and their children.”

Feedback from families attending the pop-up events has been overwhelmingly positive. APU and AUSD have hopes to grow their partnership in the future. “I would really like to see the continued growth of clinics that can provide help to our communities,” Hernandez said. “The information and accessibility the SON provides could be used for other information sessions as well.” Newman also expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to work with AUSD. “I’m really grateful for our partnership with AUSD and for allowing us to put these events together,” Newman said. “Our faculty look forward to continuing our community outreach and helping Azusa residents.”