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Subject Area

Nursing

Description

Purposes/Aims: To respond to the student-identified concerns of Student Veterans enrolled in Linfield-Good Samaritan’s School of Nursing undergraduate nursing program.

Rationale/Background: Student Veterans (SV) represent a growing community among nursing students as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan draw down. These students bring unique experiences and views to the educational milieu, offering opportunities and challenges to the schools they attend. The literature shows that SVs often struggle with their civilian identity, lack an understanding of university culture, and face financial challenges. Due to the demands of military life, SVs have frequently experienced responsibilities and interpersonal dynamics their civilian colleagues have not. Further, female SVs are over-represented in post-secondary education, 85% of SVs are between the ages of 24 and 40, 62% are first-generation students, 47% have children, and 47.3% are married.

Description: In Spring 2019, Linfield College’s Good Samaritan School of Nursing applied for a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. To ensure the needs of SVs would be met, interviews were conducted with enrolled SVs. Linfield’s SVs’ concerns were consistent with the literature; students reported feeling challenged by the transition, sought structure, and missed the camaraderie of the military. SVs felt they needed help with the processes of GI Bill formalities, time to acclimate to the culture of nursing school, and guidance to develop strategies for balancing school, families, and work.

When students were notified that Linfield did not receive the grant, they decided among themselves to respond to the concerns they identified during the grant writing process. Recognizing the challenge of funding restraints, the SV community prioritized their concerns accordingly and sought to seek solutions at no cost to the college.

Their primary concerns were the need for peer support, clear direction related to GI Bill benefits, guidance regarding the academic schedule, and a greater understanding of their experience as SVs from the faculty and their student colleagues. Veteran students partnered with their peers, faculty, and staff to implement their prioritized interventions.

Outcomes: In response to the illuminated concerns, the Veterans Club was revitalized with a new president, vice president, and increased membership, including SVs and non-veteran students. Veterans Club participation and activities have increased over the past three semesters; enrollment doubled to more than 20 participants. In response to the need for peer support, a hyperlink was included on the Linfield Veteran Support web page allowing interested SVs an opportunity to connect to a Veteran peer resource. SVs felt this approach addressed and supported the notion that SVs feel more comfortable when interacting with someone who has had similar experiences. SVs felt incoming students would benefit from interacting with other Veterans and that peer coaching would benefit both parties.

SVs will host a learning session for non-Veteran students and present the experiences and concerns of SVs to faculty in the spring of 2020.

Conclusions: SVs hope their work will strengthen future grant applications. The current Veterans Club leadership anticipate providing direction and resources to strengthen the club's ongoing success through expanding student participation, outreach to the Veteran community, and partnering with SVs at area campuses.

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May 22nd, 2:15 PM May 22nd, 2:30 PM

Improving the Experience of Student Veterans: A Student-Led Initiative

Purposes/Aims: To respond to the student-identified concerns of Student Veterans enrolled in Linfield-Good Samaritan’s School of Nursing undergraduate nursing program.

Rationale/Background: Student Veterans (SV) represent a growing community among nursing students as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan draw down. These students bring unique experiences and views to the educational milieu, offering opportunities and challenges to the schools they attend. The literature shows that SVs often struggle with their civilian identity, lack an understanding of university culture, and face financial challenges. Due to the demands of military life, SVs have frequently experienced responsibilities and interpersonal dynamics their civilian colleagues have not. Further, female SVs are over-represented in post-secondary education, 85% of SVs are between the ages of 24 and 40, 62% are first-generation students, 47% have children, and 47.3% are married.

Description: In Spring 2019, Linfield College’s Good Samaritan School of Nursing applied for a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. To ensure the needs of SVs would be met, interviews were conducted with enrolled SVs. Linfield’s SVs’ concerns were consistent with the literature; students reported feeling challenged by the transition, sought structure, and missed the camaraderie of the military. SVs felt they needed help with the processes of GI Bill formalities, time to acclimate to the culture of nursing school, and guidance to develop strategies for balancing school, families, and work.

When students were notified that Linfield did not receive the grant, they decided among themselves to respond to the concerns they identified during the grant writing process. Recognizing the challenge of funding restraints, the SV community prioritized their concerns accordingly and sought to seek solutions at no cost to the college.

Their primary concerns were the need for peer support, clear direction related to GI Bill benefits, guidance regarding the academic schedule, and a greater understanding of their experience as SVs from the faculty and their student colleagues. Veteran students partnered with their peers, faculty, and staff to implement their prioritized interventions.

Outcomes: In response to the illuminated concerns, the Veterans Club was revitalized with a new president, vice president, and increased membership, including SVs and non-veteran students. Veterans Club participation and activities have increased over the past three semesters; enrollment doubled to more than 20 participants. In response to the need for peer support, a hyperlink was included on the Linfield Veteran Support web page allowing interested SVs an opportunity to connect to a Veteran peer resource. SVs felt this approach addressed and supported the notion that SVs feel more comfortable when interacting with someone who has had similar experiences. SVs felt incoming students would benefit from interacting with other Veterans and that peer coaching would benefit both parties.

SVs will host a learning session for non-Veteran students and present the experiences and concerns of SVs to faculty in the spring of 2020.

Conclusions: SVs hope their work will strengthen future grant applications. The current Veterans Club leadership anticipate providing direction and resources to strengthen the club's ongoing success through expanding student participation, outreach to the Veteran community, and partnering with SVs at area campuses.

 

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