News at WilmU

On a Boat to Smith Island

The Island Belle II boat heads to Smith Island.

The Island Belle II boat heads to Smith Island.

Located in the Chesapeake Bay 12 miles west of Crisfield, Smith Island is Maryland’s only remaining inhabited island group — and it’s only accessible by boat. Known for its Smith Island Cakes and maritime activities, the island is home to approximately 200 residents. There are no grocery stores, stoplights, police officers, pharmacies or cell phone towers. Medical care is limited to bi-monthly visits from nurse practitioners from April to November.

FNP students John Achey and
Kari Cheezum with COHPNS Dean
Dr. Aaron Sebach (left)

College of Health Professions and Natural Sciences Dean Dr. Aaron Sebach is one of two nurse practitioners who provide medical care on the island. 

During WilmU’s Fall 2022 semester, family nurse practitioner students traveled to Smith Island with Dr. Sebach for a unique rural health clinical experience. Students conducted health screenings, ordered and interpreted diagnostic tests, administered immunizations, provided chronic disease management, and treated patients in the local church office. Golf carts were utilized to visit homebound patients. With mentoring, students developed innovative, evidence-based treatment plans. Students were required to think outside the box and consider the cost and time required for travel to the mainland for specialist appointments and for prescriptions to be delivered by boat. 

Smith Island Cake

Smith Island Cake

Students described Smith Island as a hidden gem and characterized the opportunity as a highlight of their nurse practitioner clinical experiences at Wilmington University. Each clinical rotation ended with a piece of Smith Island cake for the 45-minute boat ride back to Crisfield. Due to the success of the pilot clinical experience, Dr. Sebach plans to continue offering the clinical experience each semester.

—Aaron Sebach


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