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Student nurses campaigning for greater germ awareness in the library

It’s germ warfare. Two senior nursing students are putting their knowledge to use, fighting a campaign to convince their fellow students to maintain a healthier environment.

Fourth-year nursing majors Rana Allawnha and Meagan Sandhawalia have won approval from the Leddy Library for a quality improvement pilot project to promote germ awareness in the building.

“We spend a lot of time in the library,” Sandhawalia says. “We see what goes on, and it’s time for students to take ownership of their own study environment.”

After reviewing the available research, they have launched an all-out offensive: designing an educational display in the library’s entrance lobby, creating a video for the building’s electronic message boards, distributing tent signs to study carrels, posting flyers in washroom stalls, even designing t-shirts bearing the message: “Wipe it down or pick it up.”

The two shudder as they describe library patrons putting their feet on tables, bringing purses and bookbags from washroom floors to desktops, and eating on surfaces before making sure they’re clean.

“We want to promote health and healthy habits,” says Allawnha. “Hand washing, preventing contamination—these are things that can prevent the transmission of viruses and germs.”

The students say the library’s administration, especially dean Gwen Ebbett and associate dean Joan Dalton, have been very supportive, even installing stands to dispense anti-bacterial wipes free to patrons.

Professor Jamie Crawley says she is most impressed with the students’ initiative.

“This quality improvement project isn’t a class assignment,” she stresses. “They’re not receiving pay or a course credit—they saw a need and are demonstrating nursing leadership by improving the health of their fellow students.”

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