An Hour of Poetry- AUHS Students Reads to Elderly Patients

“Window of Time” by Kenya Smith

As I gaze set far beyond this glass that is stained

I marvel at my life that has passed frame by frame

Seasons come and go, spring rains and winters snow

Career advancements, material enhancements as children row

I observe it all through my window pane

Good times and bad. Good health and pain

I’ve enjoyed the view through adolescence till way pass my time

Take a seat and gander through the Window of Time

AUHS nursing students who volunteered to read poems to elderly patients at the Courtyard Care Center in Signal Hill, Ca on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) nursing students visited a local convalescent home to read poetry to elderly patients. Dr. Christina Baker, an AUHS General Studies Professor, took her English 207 Creative Writing class to the Courtyard Care Center in Signal Hill, Ca for a class assignment called “An Hour of Poetry” on Tuesday, February 28, 2017. Thirty-one AUHS students gathered in the Courtyard Care Center’s activity room and read their original poems to the patients.

“What I like about volunteering is that you get to give a little bit of yourself and you don’t know who’s life you’re going to touch,” said Dr. Baker, “When you think about a convalescent home, you think about how much elderly patients have lived through, what they have endured and how much respect they still deserve.”

This was Dr. Baker’s third “An Hour of Poetry” event and she wanted it to become an AUHS tradition. About 3 courses ago, Dr. Baker realized that her creative writing class could do more for the community. She called the Courtyard Care Center and asked them if they would be interested in having students from AUHS read poetry to the patients.

“Every time we go, the Courtyard ask our students to come back,” Dr. Baker said.

Dr. Baker gave her students the creative freedom to write whatever their heart’s desire, but she asked them to be sensitive towards their listeners. She encouraged her students to write uplifting and inspiring poems because the patients may be depressed or in pain and would need something positive to brighten their day.

Each of the students from Dr. Baker’s class was able to read their poems to the patients. AUHS nursing student Maria Jones was happy to have participated in Dr. Baker’s event and felt that she and her peers made a real difference in the Courtyard Care Center.

“It was a great experience to go and share our poems with the elderly patients. There was one particular lady who was cheering after every reading and it seemed like we made her day that day,” said Jones, “ My poem was about nature and beauty. I tried to make it short and sweet for the patients. The other poems were very comic and funny. There were even some students who sang and played music.”

Jones is a licensed nurse who works in home health care.

“Although I do not work in a hospital, I read a lot to my clients. Reading to them out loud wakes up their senses, they become alert and would pay attention to what I’m saying,” Jones said, “I know art and poetry helps take me away from my problems for a little while. I know it does the same thing for my patients.”

AUHS nursing student Jennifer Valdez wrote a poem called, “A Day to Remember” which was about how her ten-year relationship was coming to an end. The patients responded well to her reading.

“The patients were very warm and loving towards (the students),” said Valdez, “The patients clapped for everybody and they were just excited to see and hear everybody’s poems.”

Valdez believed that poetry was therapeutic and could help comfort the patients.

“Poetry is therapeutic not only for the writer but for the readers and listeners as well. Because people can relate to some stories and it helps to know that you are not the only one going through stuff,” said Valdez, “Knowing somebody else is there with you helps release some of that stress.”

Valdez worked in a hospital and doing something as simple as drawing a smiley face on a board or humming a familiar tune goes a long way in showing how much she cared for her patients. The most important part of “An Hour of Poetry” was for the students to show the elderly patients that they cared for them.

AUHS nursing student Kenya Smith from Cohort 16 is also an LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) and had experience working in a convalescent home.

 “I have worked in a convalescent before and sometimes you have patients that don’t get any visits. They don’t see their family and their only real communication or engagement they have is with people that work at the facility,” Smith said, “When you have outside people coming in and spending their time smiling and hugging the patients, it makes a big difference. A lot of students (at the “An Hour of Poetry” event) went out and gave the patients a therapeutic touch, a handshake and a smile. The patients were receptive, they were aware of what was happening around them and you could tell that it touched them.”

Many of the poems AUHS students read to the patients were relative to their patient’s lives, according to Smith. A couple people wrote about their grandparents and Smith wrote a poem called, “Windows of Time.”

“‘Windows of Time’ is about the evolution of a person from birth to his or her final stage in life. I thought it went hand-in-hand with being at the convalescent home because the patients were at their geriatric phase, which is the end of life,” said Smith, “But I wrote my poem in a way that showed how the person was still growing and blossoming, even at that stage of life.”

Being a nurse meant more than just medical treatment, it was about making a human connection with their patients, according to Smith.

“I don’t believe it’s just the medicine. I believe nursing is holistic. That’s the approach I take with working with patients is that you’re more than just the medical portion, you are there for their psychosocial well-being, you are there for their nutrition, and so on. It’s a totality of services that you’re bringing to their lives.”

AUHS is a private, for-profit, minority owned, minority serving, Christian-based university whose mission is to educate and equip students with life careers and to produce quality health care professionals for the community, the nation, and the world. It is a university where appreciation of life and one’s spiritual reason for existence can be nurtured.

AUHS offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS) and a Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR). To request more information, email admissions@auhs.edu or call (562) 988-2278. For the latest news, pictures and videos of American University of Health Sciences’ events, like us on Facebook @auhs.edu and follow us on Twitter @AUHS_Campus and Instagram @auhsedu.