Health promotion is important for the health of all Canadians. An overwhelming majority of health care dollars (more than 95%) is spent on treating illness once it has occurred; however, the effects of illness go beyond the monetary expenses needed to treat. Indirect costs related to disability, inability to contribute to the workforce and economy, caregiver burden, and other psychological and social factors pose a burden on the health of Canadians. It is therefore crucial to prevent and screen for illness as early as possible.
Health promotion ensures the entire Canadian population has the capacity to lead full and productive lives and contribute to a healthy society. With that goal in mind, third year Nursing students from Epidemiology and Illness Prevention put on a Health Promotion Poster Fair to raise awareness about preventable public health issues.
The Health Promotion Poster Fair is one component of a group project that focuses on developing a Public Health Education Strategy. Students apply theory and concepts learned in their course to identify a preventable public health issue, research it, and develop a public health education strategy (i.e. poster and a pamphlet) for their target population, which is the staff and students of Red River College. The focus of the education strategy is to promote health by helping people identify risk factors and take measures to prevent illness either before a disease begins (primary prevention) or in its early stages, through screening (secondary prevention).
Students select their own topics related to preventable health issues in the realm of public health, including topics related to communicable diseases, vaccine-preventable illnesses, preventable chronic diseases, sexually transmitted infections, and injuries. Once a topic is chosen, students follow detailed assignment guidelines under the guidance of a “project mentor” who assists and advises throughout and oversees the project from start to finish. Instructors Ana Stipanovic and Winona Burgess act as project mentors, providing leadership and experience to guide students in creating high quality finished products.
The Health Promotion Poster Fair gives students an opportunity not only to research the topic and identify public health needs, but to also practice working with their colleagues (other students and instructors), as well as liaising with public and private health agencies to access information for their target audience. These skills prepare students to incorporate health promotion throughout their future careers. As nurses, they can continue to lead by example through their thoughts, words, and actions in order to make health promotion the focus of each encounter with patients, families, communities, and populations. As leaders, they can advocate for change in health policy by participating in interest groups, boards or committees, and government in order to ensure that principles of social justice and health equity are upheld.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by to support our students’ learning as they support all of us through their health promotion efforts.
Written by Ana Stipanovic (Nursing Instructor) and Meagen Chorney (Nursing Instructor).
Photographs by Jennifer Johnson
(Nursing Lab Manager).