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IUB Nursing Students Connect with Community, Each Other by Sarah Hamilton

Senior BSN student Hannah Merriman has much more than graduation on her mind. Along with a full class schedule and NCLEX preparation, she is active in the IU Student Nurses Association (IUSNA).  She and her fellow IUSNA members have been working with Jill’s House as the student organization’s philanthropic effort of choice.  Jill’s House is a facility created in memory of two individuals who lost their lives at an early age.  One is Jill Behrman, an IU Bloomington student who was abducted in May of 2000.  The other is Steven Howard who passed away at the age of 19 from cancer.  Jill’s House honors the memory of these young people through its service to the community at large, and the IUSNA honors them through its service to Jill’s House. 

Hannah described Jill’s House as “a place for somebody to call their home for a short while during their treatments at the Proton Therapy Center,” which she noted is the main treatment that people residing at Jill’s House receive; however, there can be residents undergoing other types of medical treatments as well.  Hannah feels that Jill’s House provides a place for patients receiving proton therapy to make connections with one another through shared experiences.  The patients at Jill’s house come from all over the United States and are provided with private rooms, a kitchen, common area, garden, and other amenities to make them comfortable during their stay.  

Every year, Hannah and about a dozen other IUSNA members from IU Bloomington have been helping out at Jill’s House by cleaning, landscaping, organizing rooms, and coordinating drives for things like bleach, cleaning products, personal items, and toiletries that the patients might need.  The community can also become involved with Jill’s House not only by volunteering in the same way that Hannah and her fellow students have, but also through monetary and in-kind gifts.  For more information, please visit the Jill’s House website:

In addition to volunteering at Jill’s House, IU Bloomington nursing students now have the opportunity to participate in a student mentoring program, which was established at the beginning of this year.  Through this program, senior nursing students are paired with sophomores to help them adapt to the nursing program by answering questions, acting as a sounding board, and providing moral support. 

The pairs are matched by interests, so Hannah and her mentee were matched based on their love of running and healthy eating.  Mentor and mentee have bonded by running 5Ks together and discovering restaurants that offer healthy choices.  Although scheduling meetings can be challenging when two busy nursing students are involved, Hannah felt that the most rewarding part is developing a friendship with a nursing student outside her class.  She said, “I’ve actually made a connection that I wouldn’t have otherwise because we’re so disconnected from the sophomore class as seniors – we have clinicals and we’re not really around on campus...”  Both students have benefited tremendously from the relationship.

IU Bloomington faculty has been instrumental in helping to coordinate these outreach projects and supporting students, setting a great example of mentoring.  Hannah and her fellow students’ efforts both within and outside of IUSON demonstrate a strong commitment to their community and their school, very much like the commitment they will uphold as nurses. 


SNA Volunteers at Jill's House

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