More than 200 Girl Scouts of all ages gathered in the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Mini Dome for the Introduction to Nursing Badge Bash on Nov. 10, 2018. Thanks to a partnership with the Appalachian Consortium of Nursing Education and Practice (ACNEP) and Ballad Health and a year of planning, Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians (GSCSA) held the largest badge workshop in the council’s history!
Ballad Health, an integrated healthcare delivery system serving 29 counties in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky, saw a nursing shortage in their region and nationally. As a result, they decided to help in educating Girl Scouts about various nursing careers.
“[Our goal] is to…present the multiple options in the career so that those girls who may not have nurses among their family or friends are aware of the rewarding opportunities of becoming a professional nurse and caring for others,” said Lisa Smithgall, Ballad Health senior vice president and chief nursing officer.
More than 260 nursing volunteers from across the state made the event possible as Girl Scouts rotated through 15-minute stations learning about what nurses do and how to become a nurse, as well as basic first aid, caring for common health care problems, eating healthy, and preventing illness.
“The Girl Scouts are all about empowering women to [become] the best they can possibly be for the rest of their lives, and to be a part of that…it’s exciting,” said Sarah Cole, a 23-year-old nursing student at ETSU and event volunteer. “I wanted to be a nurse so I could love people at the most vulnerable moments of their lives; it’s truly rewarding and humbling.”
Volunteers came from all over the state, including King University, Tusculum University, Milligan College, Walter State Community College, Northeast State Community College, Tennessee College for Applied Technology, ETSU, and Ballad Health.
These volunteers led stations on a variety of topics, such as how to help in an emergency, using bandages correctly, nursing equipment, fighting germs, and more. In one corner there was a dance party promoting exercise and in another, girls could pet Lucy, the therapy dog.
Each Girl Scout received a custom-created “Explore Nursing" patch at the event. They also completed the requirements for their First Aid badge and the following level-appropriate badges: My Best Self (Brownie), Staying Fit (Junior), Eating for Beauty (Cadette), and Women’s Health (Senior).
“I’m having fun because we get to learn how to be a nurse and how to do cool stuff,” said Gracie, an eight-year-old from Elizabethton.