Nursing students ‘focus’ on sex-ed
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 23:02
Third-year Miami University nursing students will serve as peer educators for FOCUS, the teen pregnancy prevention program sponsored by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Hamilton.
A five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides all funding for the initiative, which is in its second year. Sarah Kinley, recent Miami graduate and YWCA community health educator, said the curriculum, which provides information for both abstinance and safe-sex practices and behaviors, is modeled after recommended pregnancy and STI prevention projects within the department.
Miami assistant nursing professor and FOCUS coordinator, Brooke Flinders, teaches an OB/GYN course at the Hamilton campus. Flinders teaches the FOCUS program curriculum during the course and the nursing students fulfill their service learning requirement by serving as peer educators to the young women in the program.
The FOCUS team and nursing students implement PowerPoint presentations, role-plays and visualizations to teach young women to navigate sexual health issues that may be difficult to discuss, such as reading a pregnancy test, getting tested for STIs at a health clinic and understanding the ovulation cycle, Kinley said.
“It’s reinforcing the idea of having a plan and sticking to it, so you’re not engaging in risky behaviors,” Kinley said.
Flinders said the students are incredibly involved and have a voice in the organizational process and implementation of the program.
A pleasant surprise since the program began is how open the young women are to engage in sexual health topics with the nursing students, Flinders said.
“There’s definitely a big difference in the reception of young, college-aged students teaching the course than if I was standing in front of them,” Flinders said.
The mission of the FOCUS sessions is to educate young women about the sexual health issues for which they may not have previously received information, Kinley said.
This is what inspired Miami nursing student and peer educator Sarah Martin to join FOCUS.
“With all of the decreased funding and the politics of sex education in schools, a lot of these young women are missing out on the opportunity to learn how to protect themselves,” Martin said.
According to Flinders, basic reproductive anatomy, types of contraceptives available and methods of STI transmission are some of the topics in which young women exhibited a lack of knowledge of before participating in the program.
FOCUS works to give young women an empowering knowledge base to create goals for their sexual health and change their behaviors to prevent risks of pregnancy and STIs.
“It’s very hard to expect someone to make an informed decision without giving them all the facts,” Kinley said.
Young women ages 16 to 19 are eligible to participate for free in any FOCUS program offered in Butler, Hamilton, Montgomery and Warren counties. Each participant receives $50 gift card after attending both sessions of the program. After the program is completed, a four-month and twelve-month survey is issued to follow up with participants about their experience and they receive another $50 after they complete each one. Flinders said the findings from the survey data can contribute to the design of future FOCUS sessions.
The two sessions will take place 9:30 to 2 p.m. March 9 and March 30 at Fairfield Lane Library, 1485 Corydale Drive.
To register for the FOCUS program, go to http://focusonsexualhealth.org.