Nursing students get first hand look at health issues faced by homeless patients in downtown tour

Cst. Stubbs accompanies a group of three nursing students and their instructor while interviewing homeless individuals on Wednesday evening. -- Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald

A fourth-year nursing class got a behind-the-scenes look at some of the issues faced by homeless patients thanks to a hands-on tour of the downtown core by two Prince Albert police officers.

Const. Stubbs said a tour of the downtown area gives the students a peek into the lives of high-risk individuals they may potentially be treating in the future.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to experience the different reasons why we work downtown and the people that police deal with everyday so they can better assist them in the healthcare system,” Stubbs told the group before they left on their guided tour. 

A brief interview with Sgt. Derek Simonson turned into a hour-long conversation that convinced eight students with the U of S College of Nursing to choose a walk-a-long of Prince Albert’s downtown as the focus of their community assessment clinic study. 

After spending a few hours in the cold on Wednesday evening, student Courtney Reinhardt said she was surprised by some things, even though she’s lived in the city for several years already. 

“I’ve had a little bit of experience with the downtown and I will say a few of my expectations were met, but I learned quite a bit from the officers,” said Reinhardt. “It’s nice to hear that they have built relationships with the people living in the downtown. They’re aware of the dangers behind the stigma of alcoholism and drug use; they’ve been a great benefit to our education.”

Stubbs and Simonson have built relationships with the people living in the downtown core over their years of working with the police service. During Wednesday’s tour, Stubbs greeted almost everyone the group came across by name. 

Reinhardt said the experience has left them all with a greater awareness of the challenges the people of Prince Albert face.

“Especially the homeless,” she said. “That perspective is something we will reflect on when dealing with mental health and substance abuse challenges in the future.

According to nursing instructor Maxine Watt, the group of students took the initiative to partner with the police upon themselves and that she has never seen the subject of interviewing individuals facing homelessness broached before.