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April 21, 2015
Nursing's most notable historical figures welcomed Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts as they arrived at the East Carolina University College of Nursing on a recent Saturday afternoon. There was American Red Cross founder Clara Barton and even the celebrated Florence Nightingale.
The reason for the presence of such revered characters? The fifth biannual Scout Out Nursing Day, a community outreach event that introduces scouts to the nursing profession. Hosted by the ECU College of Nursing and the Beta Nu chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Scout Out has educated more than 500 kids since its inception in 2007.
The more than 90 children attending this year's event represented Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops from across Eastern North Carolina and included 80 volunteers, from nursing students to faculty to local professional nurses.
"The job outlook for nursing is exceptional and we hope that this event will allow the scouts to see some of the many opportunities the career of nursing has to offer," said Gina Woody, professor of nursing and past Beta Nu president. Woody was co-chair of Scout Out Nursing's organizing committee with Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Bob Green.
Attendees at the April 11 event toured the nursing building in the company of current nursing students and visited "stations" set up in the college's practice laboratories, where they participated in hands-on demonstrations on topics such as CPR and basic first aid. One stop highlighted nursing's history and included faculty and students dressed in period costumes designed and provided by the ECU School of Theatre and Dance under the direction of Cybele Moon, assistant professor costume design.
At the military nursing station, two nursing students played the part of patients resting on gurneys as a uniformed Dr. Phil Julian explained how troops load the injured onto transport aircraft. Julian, clinical professor of nursing and a retired Air Force nurse, let the children attempt to lift the gurneys themselves.
"Many times military nurses are the first to respond when there is a natural disaster because we have the equipment, skills and training that others don't have," Julian said.
In the operating room lab, Nurse Anesthesia Program Director Dr. Maura McAuliffe and nurse anesthetist students Natalie Tyson and Lisa Foxworth were dressed in full scrubs, caps and masks. McAuliffe explained that the job of nurse anesthetists in the operating room is to put patients to sleep so they don't feel pain during surgery.
"We stay with you every step of the way to make sure everything goes okay," McAuliffe said.
The simulated operating room – which includes breathing, blinking, talking manikin on an operating table – lets anesthesia students practice techniques using real-life technologies in a low-risk environment. On this day, Assistant Clinical Professor Melydia Edge was running the technology in another room, out of sight from the event's participants. When McAuliffe told the scouts they could ask the manikin questions, eager hands shot into the air. "What kind of surgery did you have? How many surgeries have you had? Do you brush your teeth?" they wanted to know before moving to the next station.
The first aide room was a lab set up like a campsite with tent, sleeping bags, a stove and numerous plastic spiders and snakes. There were also several mannequins with wounds they might receive in the woods. Nursing faculty members Dr. Robin Corbett and Deby Tyndall led a team of volunteers teaching scouts about everyday concerns such as sunburn, poison ivy, bites and wounds.
The event also provided an opportunity for troop leaders and parents to see the health care field through children's eyes. Jennifer Cooke, a nurse at Vidant Edgecomb, said Scout Out Nursing was an ideal way for her seven-year-old son, Kyle, to get an insider's look at her profession.
"We came so he could see not only what I do when I'm at work, but so he can explore some of the opportunities that are there for boys in health care," she said.
The event is held every other spring and organizers expect it to be back by popular demand in 2017.