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Nursing Students Provide Assessments to the Poor and Homeless, Part 1

For the very poorest individuals who don't have health insurance, visiting the doctor often gets put off until there's a medical crisis. For others, they may seek routine healthcare by visiting the emergency room. In an effort to reach out to these individuals, nursing students from Missouri State University are meeting with the homeless and individuals staying in shelters to provide some basic services. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Nursing student Catherine Horne spends several hours each week at Bill's Place, a drop-in center for the homeless on Commercial Street in Springfield...She sits across the table from a man in a small conference room and takes his blood pressure.

Horne says this man is typical of the people she sees at Bill's Place.

Horne is taking part in an integrated service learning course through Missouri State University that puts advanced nursing students in the trenches to serve people who normally don't have access to healthcare professionals. Horne says it's been a good experience for her.

Not all students are excited about working with the homeless. Nursing student Chrissy Larsen.

Not only does Chrissy Larsen feel safe but she feels comfortable with her clients...She says interacting with homeless people has given her a new perspective.

In fact, the nursing students found out the staff at Bill's Place needed help when it came to dealing with medical emergencies. Student Beth Albers says she helped create bio-hazard kits for Bill's Place and other outreach facilities that are a part of The Kitchen Incorporated.

Albers says working with clients of The Kitchen, Incorporated has been the best part of her nursing program. That's what Susan Sims-Giddens likes to hear. She's an associate professor in the Missouri State Department of Nursing.

And it's not just the students who benefit. Sims-Giddens says the community benefits too.

And those basic assessments have not only reduced the demands on clinics in the area that serve the's helped empower the clients to make healthy choices themselves.