Students hold BP screenings

Lindsay Smith, Staff Writer

Sixty-nine junior nursing students from Francis Marion University’s (FMU) health
assessment class held blood pressure screenings for employees of Johnson Controls and shoppers
at Hamrick’s on Sept. 4 and 11.
Tracy George, professor of nursing, received a grant from the Ready to Experience Applied
Learning (REAL) program to fund the community screenings.  REAL is an experiential learning
program that awards grants to students and faculty members to participate in activities that give
them educational, real life experiences.  To be awarded this money, individuals must apply for
the grant and agree to complete a survey after the project is done.
For this community outreach, blood pressure screenings were chosen as the focus of the
project because there are several incidences of hypertension and stroke in the Pee Dee region.
The on-site nurse at Johnson Controls also expressed concerns of undiagnosed high blood
pressure among employees.  George said that the screenings were beneficial for both the patients
and the students.
“The project provided service to the community while also giving the students more
practice with blood pressure measurements,” George said.
The screenings were the first interactions that the students had with actual patients.  They
were able to practice taking blood pressures and measuring body mass indexes. They also created
posters on high blood pressure, exercise, hydration and weight control.
After the screenings, George had the students write reflections on their experiences.  The
most common statement from the students was that their confidence levels in handling patients
and reading blood pressure measurements were increased. According to George, the students
enjoyed their interactions with the patients. She also said that the community service solidified
the desire to become nurses for several students.
George was excited to see the students utilize the skills they had learned from the class in the
community. There was a small struggle convincing shoppers to stop at the screening table, but
George hopes the project can expand to another industrial site next semester and continue on in
the coming years.