Engaged civic learning has significant, positive impact on nursing students' confidence, social skills, and appreciation of diversity. Students become better equipped to recognize the causes and innovative solutions to complex social problems, while they develop critical workplace skills and practice their voices as professional nurses. They become effective change agents by participating in direct service, capacity building, advocacy, and evidence-based, participatory research.
Immersed in the community
We believe health care is a basic right –not a privilege– and a person's zip code should not determine the quality of their health. Today, there is a growing movement of committed nurses who bring healing and health equity to underserved populations all across the country and the world. Our faculty and students are immersed in the community – locally, across the region, and around the globe.
Some examples of how we engage with partners across sectors include:
Camden Health Element
The Camden Health Element –an initiative of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC)–will provide a high-level vision and concrete strategies to promote health as a priority for Camden’s future growth and development. This project will convene stakeholders and engage the community to collaboratively develop a vision for a healthy Camden, identify areas of concern, and generate recommendations for improving public health through policy and planning-based tools. DVRPC is in the process of working with the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden to develop more outreach opportunities to better understand the community’s vision for a healthy Camden.
Restoring Wellbeing to Homeless People
Clinical Assistant Professor Kathy Jackson and Assistant Professor Nancy Pontes, who are both nurse practitioners, help deliver patient-centered, primary care to homeless persons as part of the Project H.O.P.E. at Cathedral Kitchen effort in Camden. This innovative faculty-practice partnership with this Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) expands the school's public health reach, brings healing to people in need, and inspires our learning community to address complex social problems.
Young Mothers and At-Risk Children
Wanda Williams, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing–Camden, 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.
Public Health Workforce Development
Professor Marie O’Toole and Jeff Brenner, MD, founding director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, have worked to ensure student nurses develop measurable knowledge and skills in population health and to address workforce development in public health nursing. Together, they built a curriculum that immerses first-year students in community-based care, social determinants of health, complex care, and health system transformation through "Health Promotion in a Multicultural Society", a class taken by accelerated nursing students at the School of Nursing–Camden.
Healthy Head Start
Clinical Assistant Professor Kathy Prihoda oversees a collaboration between our accelerated bachelor of nursing students and doctor of nursing practice students with the community, through a special focus on at-risk, pre-school populations. Prihoda and her students deliver health outreach, screenings, and education through partnerships with Head Start programs led by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton, N.J. and the Center for Family Services, which provides Head Start programs throughout the city of Camden and across Camden County, N.J.
Food Deserts, Nutrition, and Dignity
Camden is considered a food desert by the USDA because just one supermarket serves the city of 77,000 where two out of every five people live below the poverty level. Clinical Assistant 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 reducing hunger and improving well-being.
Get Healthy Camden
Professor Marie O’Toole serves on the Executive Committee of Get Healthy Camden, a project of the Camden Collaborative Initiative, a consortium of governmental, non-profit, private, and community-based agencies that plan and implement innovative strategies to improve the quality of life in Camden. A recent initiative includes connecting common interests and goals around the New Jersey Department of Health's State Health Assessment Data (NJSHAD) System, which provides access to public health datasets, statistics, and information on the health status of New Jerseyans. Another recent effort, Connect the Lots, activates vacant spaces to offer cultural, artistic, and recreational activity in a safe and welcoming environment for people living in Camden.
Human Trafficking and Nurse Education
Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Renee Cantwell and Clinical Assistant Professor Dr. Jeanann Coppola are working locally and statewide to raise awareness about the physical and emotional issues related to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. They are actively gathering data from nurses across New Jersey in order to develop educational and professional development programs for nurses who care for victims of human trafficking.
Community Health Education and Screenings
Patricia Suplee, an associate professor in the School of Nursing–Camden and nationally-recognized expert in maternal health and nursing education, has devoted her career to helping our neighbors in need across the City of Camden. Each semester, Suplee and students enrolled in her "Nursing of Women and the Childbearing Family" course conduct community outreach to deliver health education and screenings. Partners have included places of worship, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and libraries across the southern New Jersey region.
Having fun while doing good
More than ever, nurses are using their influence and knowledge to advance the frontlines of heath care practice, policy, and patient outcomes. Our Rutgers–Camden Student Nurses' Association (SNA) is a local, student-run organization that encourages students to expand their roles as nurse leaders and patient advocates by working to make a positive impact on people who live in Camden, N.J. The SNA supports classmates and promotes health equity by forging partnerships with social enterprises such as soup kitchens, places of worship, and community groups in the City of Camden and beyond.