A Part of Something Bigger

A Part of Something Bigger

A Part of Something Bigger

School of Nursing faculty and students at the RAM clinic in Smithville, TN

April 2015

by Joy L. Lindsey, Upper Division BSN Student

'A part of something bigger' is the phrase that comes to mind when reflecting on the Remote Area Medical (RAM) trip to Smithville, Tennessee. With a passion for community nursing, my participation in the effort was a true honor. I attended along with Diane Riff, MSN, FNP and Whitney Nash, PhD, MSN, ANP-BC, two esteemed School of Nursing faculty members dedicated to the community.

Arriving at RAM in the wee hours of the morning the first day, we were guided in by the Army National Guard. As we were led through, there were hundreds of cars and seemingly even more people standing huddled in line. All were waiting at the doors in the very chilly morning air, in hopes to receive the medical care they desperately needed.

The RAM operation was very impressive as it is highly organized with every meticulous detail thought out. There were numerous volunteers from the community along with those of us that had traveled there to be of service. It was awe-inspiring. Local churches, the fire department and so many others had prepared food for us to begin our day.

After a brief orientation we were sent to our stations to welcome the droves of patients that flooded the registration and triage areas. They were given color-coded papers signifying medical, dental, and vision. It was amazing; everyone made it to where they supposed to go and received the services that were available to them. The clients were all grateful, though they were tired and exhausted from trying to sleep in their cars to assure they would be seen that day.

Riff asked all the students to bring a teaching plan, and I chose the Start the Heart Foundation’s hands only CPR, founded by Dr. William Dillon of Louisville, Kentucky. It was a natural choice for me since I volunteer for the foundation and teach high school freshman hands-only CPR in Jefferson County. While the RAM patients were awaiting care, it was a perfect time to teach them some simple steps that can essentially save lives.

I had a lot of help from the other students on the trip, especially Emily Dauby, Stacia Lenahan, Peyton Vaughn and Kathrine Jansen. I could not have taught CPR to the over 200 people without their help. The participants were very receptive to the concepts. Some shared with us tragic stories of losing loved ones, in some cases children, to cardiac arrest. This reaffirms the reason why CPR needs to be taught everywhere.

The people that we served at the Smithville RAM had a high rate of chronic illness without access to health care providers. We found that some patients utilized the local emergency department as a source of primary care. It was remarkable to witness the gravity of need present in this community and being only mere hours away from Louisville. I am deeply grateful for this experience and am planning to attend future RAM events.

There have been many opportunities for community service and patient-client teaching while at the University of Louisville School of Nursing, however the RAM trip has been most memorable. I was one small spoke in the massive wheel of services RAM provided, and I will never forget being a part of something bigger.