Nursing Research on the Green
Karen Arndt, RN, BSN; Elizabeth Arnold, MPH; Lois Tucker, RN, BSN
Ana Schaper, PhD, RN; Dawn Steffes, Research Associate
Gundersen Lutheran Health System
- Background: Gundersen Lutheran Health System started the Global Partners program in 2008 and initiated a long-term, sustainable partnership Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Since 2009, volunteer medical teams have provided primary care and chronic disease management services on Pine Ridge.
- Significance: An assessment of a volunteer’s experience provides insights into how nursing, medical and support staff may be impacted professionally or personally through participation in a volunteer trip.
- Purpose/objective: The purpose of this study was to gather volunteer feedback on the program and the impact their volunteer experience had on their personal and professional development.
- Methods: The literature identifies a number of potential benefits to professional practice and personal development related to volunteerism. Participants were volunteers to Pine Ridge Reservation from October 2009 to November 2011. An anonymous evaluation survey was sent via survey monkey. Self-selected volunteers wrote entries in a team journal describing insights and stories of their experiences.
- Results: Survey response rate was 40% with data from 12 physicians, 26 nurses and 8 support staff. Program strengths included:, an effective orientation, well organized travel, and good teamwork. Most satisfying experiences centered around helping others and building new relationships. Least satisfying aspects of the experience related to system barriers limiting health service delivery, and the overwhelming health needs of people living on Pine Ridge reservation. Survey data and journal entries documented personal and professional development through the volunteer experience.
- Clinical Implications: Numerous programmatic changes have been implemented following the feedback received from the survey, journal, as well as debriefing meetings held by each team. Recent changes aim to increase employee engagement, expand partnerships to create more sustainable development, and address system barriers. Continued evaluation of the volunteer’s experience is needed to understand how site, role, prior experience or satisfaction specifically impact professional and personal development.
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