Nursing students give kids vision screenings – News at UNG

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Article By: Clark Leonard
The University of North Georgia’s (UNG) nursing department began a partnership this fall with Prevent Blindness Georgia to offer free vision screenings for more than 1,000 children, primarily in elementary schools in Hall and Fulton counties.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing students enrolled in the pediatric course earned their vision training certificate through online training modules and a skills assessment via Zoom. They then served as screeners in the schools and at community clinics. 
“This gives them experience in the community where they’re seeing firsthand how these students are being screened and how to connect them with resources,” Anne Hall, UNG lecturer of nursing, said.
Prevent Blindness Georgia (PBGA) was established in 1965 as an affiliate of Prevent Blindness, the nation’s leading nonprofit eye health and safety organization. With a focus on promoting vision care, PBGA screens more than 33,000 children each year.
“We screen children as early as pre-K. Screening this early allows us to detect conditions like amblyopia, which is the No. 1 cause of preventable childhood blindness. It’s best if diagnosed and treated before age 6,” Shavette L. Turner, vice president of children’s vision services for PBGA, said. “Our goal is to screen early to detect eye conditions that would hinder children from being vision ready to learn. Our UNG nursing students have made helped make that goal a reality.”
Anne Hall
UNG lecturer of nursing
Hall said the referral rate for vision care in most schools is around 8%, while it is usually between 20% and 30% at the Hall County schools.
These numbers, Hall said, show the need for UNG’s BSN students to help.
“I’m excited about being able to get our students in the community and see the difference they can make,” she said. “They represent UNG very well, and they always make me proud.”
Hannah Nauck, a senior from Concord, Georgia, enjoyed the chance to work alongside the school nurses and interact with the children.  
“Most times, the kids don’t know they have vision problems, and it may not get caught until a lot later,” Nauck said. “It’s rewarding to know that we’re providing early intervention and referrals.”
Anna Chirillo, a senior cadet from Newnan, Georgia, plans to commission in the Army Nurse Corps when she graduates. She said the vision screening experience made her more well-rounded.
“A lot of people think nurses only work in clinical settings,” she said. “This shows that nursing encompasses so much more than just bed-side practice. It gives us the experience to understand that.”
It also improved her communication skills.
“Kids are curious. They have extra questions,” Chirillo said. “It’s always so interesting to work with them and see what it takes to communicate what you need them to do and convince them it’s something they should be doing.”
UNG’s BSN is a traditional four-year program for students with no nursing licensure who want to become a registered nurse. Through rigorous classes, practice in simulation labs, and intensive clinical experiences, they prepare to be nurse generalists with the knowledge and skills to practice in acute and community settings. The program consistently ranks among the best in Georgia by national publications, including U.S. News & World Report.

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