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 cross-sector partners include:
Camden Health Element
The Camden Health Element –an initiative of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC)– works with the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden to develop effective outreach opportunities to better understand the vision and goals that people living in Camden have for a healthy community. The Camden Health Element was developed to provide high-level insight and concrete strategies to promote health as a priority for Camden’s future growth and development. This project convenes cross-sector stakeholders and engages 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.
Home Visits for a Healthier Community
The Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden partners with the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine on the New Jersey Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (NJGWEP), which aims to educate students about the complex care often required by older adults through experiential learning at Northgate II, a low-income apartment complex in North Camden that is home to many senior citizens. The program involves a system of mentorship combined with hands-on learning for each student in order to ensure sustainability of the project. Since no single profession has all of the knowledge and skills necessary to solve complex healthcare issues –especially with elderly patients– students work collaboratively across disciplines to deliver team based care to a vulnerable community.
Get Healthy Camden
Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden students are engaged with Get Healthy Camden, a project of the Camden Collaborative Initiative focused on policy and environmental change that directly affects the quality of life, health, and well-being of the residents of Camden. Initiatives are designed to offer residents the opportunity to pursue the healthiest life possible. Initiatives include 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.
Health Care for Those Without
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. Cathedral Kitchen, a mission that “uses food to change lives” and Project H.O.P.E. have joined forces to provide nurishment, primary health, and behavioral health-care services for the homeless. The collaboration served almost 4,000 patients in 2016 alone. The Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden's faculty-practice partnership with Project H.O.P.E., a Federally Qualified Health Center, expands the school's public health reach, brings healing to people in need, and inspires our learning community to address complex social problems.
Public Health Workforce Development
The Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden and the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers are working together to ensure student nurses develop measurable knowledge and skills in population health, learn about community-based care, and how 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.
Health Equity at The Salvation Army Kroc Center
According to U.S. Census data, about 40 percent of residents living in Camden, N.J. speak Spanish, which presents a challenge if health professionals are not able to communicate effectively. An interdisciplinary coalition of Rutgers University–Camden campus programs –including the School of Nursing, the Department of World Languages and Cultures’ Spanish program, the Community Leadership Center, and the Learning Abroad program– have joined forces to create the Internal Certificate in Spanish the Health Professions. This award-winning program helps prepare and educate nurses and other health providers across sectors to communicate in Spanish. Students enrolled in the certificate program participate in bi-lingual community health screenings, such as the diabetes awareness days hosted by The Salvation Army Kroc Center, located in the Cramer Hill neighborhood of Camden.
Healthy Food for Camden Families
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. As part of her ongoing community health project to help Camden families live healthier lifestyles, Kathy Jackson, a clinical assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden, partners with New Jersey Farmers Against Hunger and the Housing Authority of the City of Camden to bring fresh produce to the Branch and Ablett villages, which include more than 500 low-income housing units.
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.
Students in the School of Nursing—Camden Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program regularly partner with Acelero Learning to provide lead screenings for preschoolers across the City of Camden, N.J. Acelero serves more than a thousand children in Philadelphia and Camden, where it offers free, full-day preschool programs and works to build a better future for the children and families of both communities.
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.
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.
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.