Nursing Students and Faculty Immersed in the Community

At Rutgers School of Nursing—Camden we believe access to care is a basic right –not a privilege– and a person's zip code should not determine the quality of their health.

In Camden, residents’ health suffers from poverty, crime, unemployment, and limited economic resources. Camden has been dubbed the “poorest city in the nation” while it sits in New Jersey, the state with the second-highest median income in the nation ($64,918 based on the 2010 Census).

We build engaged civic learning into our nursing curriculum, connecting campus resources with people and social enterprises throughout the community. Civic learning has significant, positive impact on nursing students' confidence, social skills, appreciation of diversity, and ability to cultivate relationships. When students are immersed in the community, they are better equipped to recognize the causes and solutions to complex social problems, while they develop critical workplace skills. They become effective change agents by participating in direct service, capacity building, advocacy, and research.

A few examples of our local civic engagement efforts include:

Public Health Workforce Development

Senior Associate Dean Marie O’Toole and the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers are working to ensure student nurses develop measurable knowledge and skills in population health and to address workforce development in public health nursing. Together, they have built a new curriculum that exposes first-year students to community-based care, social determinants of health, complex care, and health system transformation.

Delivering Primary Care to Homeless Persons

Each week, professors and nurse practitioners Kathy Jackson and Nancy Pontes help deliver patient-centered, primary care to homeless persons as part of the Project H.O.P.E. at Cathedral Kitchen homeless outreach effort in Camden, N.J. Our faculty-practice partnership expands the school's public health reach and inspires our community to address complex social problems.

Healthy Head Start

Professor Kathy Prihoda engages her nursing students with at-risk, pre-school populations through Head Start partnerships led by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton, N.J. and the Center for Family Services, which oversees pre-school programs across the city of Camden and across Camden County, N.J.

Young Mothers and Children

Professor Wanda Williams and her students work with young mothers enrolled in the TIP program – a federally-funded initiative to improve parenting skills and offer welfare-to-work support to expectant women and new mothers. Dr. Williams' research interests include using a faith-based approach to offer health behavior interventions for African American girls and women.

Food Deserts, Nutrition, and Obesity

In Camden, just one supermarket serves the city of 77,000 people – many of whom live in poverty. Professor Kathy Jackson works with the New Jersey Farmers Against Hunger and the Housing Authority of the City of Camden to make fresh produce affordable and accessible across neighborhoods in Camden, with the goal of addressing hunger and poor nutrition.

Connecting Lots to Improve Quality of Life

Dr. Marie O’Toole serves on the Executive Committee of Get Healthy Camden, a project of the Camden Collaborative Initiative, a consortium of agencies that seeks to improve the quality of life in Camden. One recent effort, ‘Connect-the-Lots,’ is a community-driven initiative to activate Camden’s vacant lots to promote access to healthy recreation, arts, and culture.

Our Neighbors in Need

Professor Patricia Suplee, a nationally-recognized expert in maternal health and nursing education, has devoted her career to helping our neighbors in need across the City of Camden. Suplee and her junior year students regularly partner with the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to deliver health education, screenings, and hot meals to local parishioners, neighbors, and homeless people throughout the year.