The Texas Wesleyan Doctor of Nursing Practice, Family Nurse Practitioner faculty and students had a wonderful experience in the US/Mexico border town of Laredo, Texas. Dr. Kelly Crawford, professor of Vulnerable Populations, along with DNP faculty Dr. Connie Barker and Dr. Denise De La Rosa took students to the border town for a hands-on learning experience. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Texas Border Health Department and Mercy Clinic, a primary health care provider to Webb county’s neediest residents, Wesleyan students were able to expand upon what they learned in class including the complexities and satisfaction that comes from providing care for various vulnerable populations.
The week started with Sister Rosemary Welsh briefing the students on issues facing this border town and a community tour which included a visit to the Colonias, a residential area where basic living necessities like potable water are frequently unavailable. Sister Rosemary spoke candidly about the need for immigration reform and reinforced that immigrants are only here seeking opportunities for a better life.
During their time at the clinic, students rotated with nurse practitioners and spent time with registered pharmacy techs, social workers, and administrative intake personnel to gain a better understanding regarding the aspects of community care. Each day, a different student participated in the clinic community care outreach program (a mobile medical van that brought healthcare to people in the community). The people at Mercy Clinic were passionate and inspiring.
Midweek the students spent the day at the Laredo Public Health Department where comprehensive presentations were provided detailing their extensive services, and visited Casa de Misericordia, a domestic violence shelter where students took part in an interactive domestic violence simulation exercise titled “In Her Shoes.” We all left with a new perspective on the complexities faced by individuals and families in domestic violence situations. At the end of the week, the students served in the Mercy Ministries Harvest of Health event where the community is invited to receive various health and wellness services.
The students reported that this vulnerable population experience was amazing, enlightening, and was their favorite part of the course. A special thanks to Texas Wesleyan, Dr. Heidi Taylor and the School of Health Professions, Sister Rosemary Welsh, Sister Maria Luisa Vera, and all the people at Mercy Clinic, The Laredo Public Health Department, Casa de Misericordia, and La Posada Hotel for your time, your effort, and investment in creating an invaluable experience for Wesleyan students.