University of Virginia School of Nursing
Sabrina Cumpian and Olivia Conn (CNL students), with Esha Rawat, a rising 3rd year, at a recent health fair at Southwood Community Center in Chville where they chatted with residents about sun safety.

While many UVA undergraduates head home for the summer, a small but active group of UVA School of Nursing students have stuck around to lend a hand at local health fairs, practicing their assessment skills, sharing their sun safety knowledge, and even speaking a little Spanish.

“We’re committed to consistent engagement and partnership within the community throughout the entire year."

Camille Burnett, associate professor and Academic Director, Community Engagement and Partnerships

The move is in response to the community’s desire for more continuity of health services, health care providers, and an expanded presence of UVA nursing students within their communities. During the summer, nursing students' clinical placements are shorter, and the cohort of students smaller, two factors that create gaps in UVA Nursing's saturation across our many community sites. This is in stark contrast to nursing students' ubiquity from September to April when they are immersed for a more extended period of time in larger numbers at a variety of practice settings during their clinical rotations, says associate professor Camille Burnett, the academic director of community engagement and partnership at the School of Nursing.

“We’re committed to consistent engagement and partnership within the community throughout the entire year,” says Burnett, “and, while it’s a challenge for students to balance their summertime between family, vacation and work we still want them to have the opportunity to remain engaged in the community while continuing to provide much needed public health nursing care.”

Among the group of UVA nursing students were a threesome who, in mid-June, offered information and health teaching about sun safety at Southwood Community Center to a group of largely Latino residents, many of whom work in jobs with high sun exposure such as construction, landscaping, and agricultural work. For rising third-year nursing student Esha Rawat, it was a chance to hone her nursing, and learn a bit more about her Charlottesville neighbors, too.

“Not only were the people there kind and welcoming, but I also felt like I made a little bit of an impact on their day,” says Rawat, of Ashburn, Va., “whether it was just reminding them the importance of wearing sunscreen or giving them little packets of sunscreen to apply on their skin.”

CNL master’s student Olivia Conn agrees.

“For the longest time, I’ve been the ‘student…’ but at Southwood, I was the ‘teacher,’” says Conn, a Woodbine, MD, native. And while residents had a “wide range of knowledge about the benefits of sunscreen, there was a knowledge gap about how many times one should re-apply sunscreen throughout the day in relation to the SPF number."

Although teaching the importance of sun protection is nothing new, it remains a particularly pertinent topic for individuals with darker complexions, who often forgo sun protection because of the perception that they don’t burn, or that they have sufficient protection from having more melanin in their skin. However UV radiation which is associated with skin cancer affects everyone.

There will be four upcoming additional events focused on sun safety during July and August:

  • 7-21-18 health fair at Nelson County High School (10 AM to 2 PM)
  • 7-28-18 African-American Cultural Festival, Washington Park (10 AM to 2 PM)
  • 8-4-18 Westhaven Community Day event (10 AM to 2 PM)
  • 8-18 health fair at Southwood focused on back-to-school (time TBD)

Senior administrative coordinator for Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence Achievement (IDEA) Emerson Aviles is spearheading the coordination of students, volunteers, and resources for all of the summer health fairs. He is seeking donations of new sun hats (baseball-style, for both children and adults) and sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF at the School of Nursing (225 Jeanette Lancaster Way, Charlottesville) for distribution at these events.

Special thanks goes to the UVA School of Nursing Class of 1966, which kindly donated the funding for sunscreen and hats for the first health fair in June.

Nursing alumni and students interested in participating as volunteers at one of the forthcoming health fairs are encouraged to contact Emerson:, or 434-924-1689.