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Students in Morrisville State College Bachelor Degree Nursing Program Participate in Community Research Project on Childhood Obesity

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.¬—Nursing students at Morrisville State College are reaching beyond their regular textbook, classroom, clinical and laboratory lessons—participating in a community wide research project.

They’ve partnered with the Madison County Health Department and Madison-Oneida BOCES to study childhood obesity in Madison County.

Their study, the Madison County Child Obesity Prevalence Project, is led by Margaret Argentine, professor of nursing and director of Morrisville State College’s bachelor degree nursing program, and Marilyn Caldwell, assistant professor of nursing.

According to Argentine, the group has been gathering statistics that point to a rising number of overweight children in Madison County, a trend that could have a profound impact on their personal health and well-being, public health care and the economy.

The study, part of service learning and a clinical course required for the college’s bachelor of technology nursing degree, takes nursing students out of the classroom and into the local community where they are involved with all parts of the study, from presenting proposals to school boards, school nurses and administrator teams, to analyzing the results and writing reports.

On April 13, a group of students will present their work to New York state legislators and SUNY representatives in a statewide SUNY event, “SUNY Undergraduates Shaping New York’s Future: A Showcase of Scholarly Posters at the Capitol.”

So far, students have completed the first phase of their study which involved measuring variables from just under 4,000 children from 16 public and private schools in Madison County. The results show that 37 to 45 percent of Madison County children, ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, compared to national reports of 17 to 25 percent.

Assistance from school nurses, physical education and health teachers, helped the team measure students, calculate body mass index (BMI) and get results. Information gathered on each child is kept confidential.

Overall, the childhood obesity project will provide an impetus for the community in terms of planning and setting health improvement goals.

“Having these results allows us as a whole community to get to work helping kids and families get healthier,” Argentine said.

A baseline provided by the study will help measure the impact of different options that are available such as healthier food choices, fitness activities, child, parent and family education and support activities, community-wide grant opportunities and more.

During the next phase of the child obesity study, additional schools will join research efforts and some of the children in the first phase will be measured again to add to the Madison County baseline. Improvement activities can then be evaluated to see which ones work best.

Morrisville’s bachelor degree nursing program is intended for students who have just completed their RN and also for experienced nurses who want to take the next step in their nursing career. The program is designed to enhance students’ professional development, prepare them for leadership and management positions in healthcare and apply research findings in their professional practice.

Students in the program will have the opportunity to enhance their nursing practice in the areas of family and community nursing, advanced health assessment and health promotion, nursing theory and research, ethics, organizational communications, systems theory and leadership and management.

Students who complete an associate degree in nursing at Morrisville State College can continue their education at Morrisville in the nursing bachelor degree program. Also eligible for the program are RNs who have graduated from another A.A.S. nursing or diploma program.

Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, Morrisville State College offers more than 80 bachelor and associate degrees and options.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in accounting, business, computer systems technology, office administration, liberal arts transfer, nursing, early childhood, criminal justice and human services to south central New York residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the Morrisville campus.