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Beckley Campus nursing students form organization to support holistic health in the community

BECKLEY, W.Va. – A group of undergraduate nursing students at the WVU School of Nursing Beckley Campus recently formed a new student organization focused on supporting and improving holistic health in southern West Virginia.

Led by trained faith community nurse and faculty member Dr. Peggy Lambert-Fink, Faith Community Health is a new student organization on the Beckley Campus, located at WVU Tech.

The student organization is looking to partner with local faith communities to facilitate congregational health programs. The club is also led by senior nursing students, President Lauren Harrah and Vice President Hanna Payne.

Harrah said she started the student organization to expand on opportunities to serve her community. She is reaching out to congregants at Beckley Presbyterian for her capstone project and for the Faith Community Health outreach. The BSN Capstone Project is a graduation requirement and is completed while the student is enrolled in nursing 411 Community Health. This course is newly designated as a WVU service-learning course starting in the spring of 2024.

During Harrah’s research, she learned from a key informant interview of a congregational member revealed that the main concern of congregants is mental health. Because of this, the Faith Community Health organization reached out to students from the psychology department to help provide better mental health support. They also plan to provide other services, including COVID-19 testing.

“With faith community health, the focus is on individuals using a holistic approach,” Harrah said. “It’s all about being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.”

The students plan to have a health fair at a local faith community, possibly as early as this fall, with services being offered to both church members and the public. The organization plans to reach out to two or three churches in the near future.

WVU Tech President T. Ramon Stuart has plans to grow the Faith Community Health outreach program to include seven churches in the area.

“We are excited to partner with the faith community in our region. This relationship is an excellent example of what our Communiversity initiative is about,” President Stuart said. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration and showcasing what Tech and our students can do for our community.”

Payne added, “Faith-based nursing is a great way to improve the overall health of our community. I am excited to be a part of this new student organization at WVU Tech, and I can't wait to see the great things this program will do."

Harrah shared her excitement about how far the organization has already come and how much it will grow in the future.

“Faculty and students on the Beckley Campus are clearing new paths in the southern part of the state with our faith community nursing initiative,” said Dr. Angel Smothers, director of the faith community nursing program and Associate Dean for Community Engagement at the WVU School of Nursing in Morgantown.

Supplies for the health fairs are being made possible by a donation by Wes and Natalie Bush, an alum of the WVU School of Nursing, to the Faith Community Nursing initiative. Their gift was awarded via the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.