by James Coburn
Pam Boeck hopes people enter the nursing field because they feel a calling.
Students are required to do service learning at the Kramer School of Nursing at Oklahoma City University, Boeck, RN, a clinical instructor.
“I teach community so I have had the opportunity in service learning to take students with Professor Debra Barnett to north eastern Oklahoma,” said Professor Boeck, who has gone on the mission trip for the last three years.
Students learned about community, did health fairs and went to a children’s mission.
Adair County is one of the highest poverty levels in Oklahoma. However, it is very rich in its charity culture. So they combined servant leadership, service learning and culture.
“Professor Barnett has worked on establishing leadership in that area, and then we worked on forming the classes together,” Boeck said. “I extended beyond that. On January 1st, I’ll be taking my students to Belize to do another service learning/leadership.”
Going to Belize will be the first venture there for Kramer students. Boeck has been there before with Dr. Charles Neff, a minister at OCU who has been taking OCU students to Belize for a couple of years on a building project. She will be taking 10 students while Neff continues his building projects.
“Some of those will be nursing students that he’s taking who have done other mission trips with us,” Boeck said.
The nursing students will write about their experiences when they return to Kramer. Their experience in Adair County has taught them about doing for others when it is always easy to do for yourself, Boeck continued.
“They are always tired in the semester and they feel like they don’t want to go. But they leave with a new appreciation of seeing people living in poverty, but still coming together in a community in a caring an loving way,” Boeck said. “That is part of our philosophy at the school.”
Some of the students are going on to careers and nurse practitioners or to teach nursing. Some of them have also earned their certification necessary to do Faith Community Nursing.
Faith Community Nursing provides an opportunity to work in one’s place of worship. It is a resource for people in a church, mosque or synagogue to have a nurse to go, to to plan health fairs, service learning or have somebody to listen with a spiritual aspect, Boeck said. It provides an opportunity to practice holistic health.
Boeck said when considering international health, it is very important for students to be aware of what is offered and what other communities have to bring to the table. Community nursing through mission work is an important aspect of learning.
“We present the information to our advisory board. I know I have thought about using it for research and Professor Barnett is actually doing her thesis on servant leadership,” Boeck said.
She feels the spiritual aspect of nursing. It teaches them to care and learn about life outside their community, she said.
“It gives them a taste for compassionate living and doing what’s right, not just for our community. Sometimes it’s finding out just how much other people have to offer us. We have the opportunity not to just reach out but to be touched by other people and how they live,” Boeck explained.
This altruistic philosophy of nursing has lent itself to Kramer’s expansive growth that continues today. The growth is exciting and challenging, Boeck said. Kramer is blessed to experience burgeoning growth and has learned to adapt, she added.
“I am so excited so many people want to be nurses and I think we have a wonderful place to set that up,” Boeck said. “It’s overwhelming some days but overall it’s a good thing.”
Teaching more students is also a learning experience for Boeck as it teaches her about her strengths and what she can do different. Kramer gives students an excellent tool to surge forward in their careers.
“I think the profession has progressed and is more and more respected,” Boeck said. “And it’s something people want to do and stay with.”
Still, she said there remains a shortage of nursing faculty in Oklahoma. It is a trusted and noble profession. Often nurses are the breadwinners for their family, she said. And sometimes nurses realize they can earn more money in other fields besides teaching.
“Education is struggling because there’s not enough funding (in Oklahoma) for us to take care of our faculty as we would like,” Boeck said.
Kramer is where Boeck wanted to work after earning her master’s degree at Oklahoma Baptist University.
“We talk about the Kramer way a lot, and I still everyday feel grateful and honored that I have the privilege to get up and come and work here. I work with a great team and I think our students are the best.”