The undergraduate nursing program at the University of North Florida has a community-based, population focused curriculum that integrates the principles of population health and community engagement throughout the undergraduate nursing program. The program has been in-place for ten years and is based on a community ecology model that encourages holistic thinking about the relationship of health to community development. Students enter the professional nursing component of the undergraduate program in the third year of their university career with prerequisite courses in basic statistics, psychology, sociology and the liberal arts. At the start of their five semester sequence of nursing courses they are introduced to their community home-base, the service-learning site for the duration of their undergraduate nursing program. Placement of students is done with consideration to the student’s home location in order to minimize student travel time. Students are mentored throughout the five semester experience by two faculty members who remain with them for the duration of their service learning experience. The faculty members do not always have a public health nursing background, but do have strong interests in the community or may have an association with a community agency.
At the start of the experience students learn basic public health concepts in an introductory class and begin a community assessment in their community home-base. They are briefly introduced to public health nursing roles, family and community assessment, descriptive epidemiology, environmental health and transcultural nursing. Throughout out the first four semesters, students plan, implement, and evaluate various community projects for at risk populations in cooperation with community stakeholders and faculty mentors. Their relationship with the community moves from development of familiarity with the people and place to a deepening level of engagement and commitment. Their projects focus on health promotion and illness prevention by providing screening, health education, resource development, referrals, and many more. Through these activities, population health concepts are threaded across the curriculum.
During the senior year of the baccalaureate program there is a 5 credit course that provides 2 credits of didactic content and 90 hours of public health nursing content. This course provides didactic content in epidemiology, policy and advocacy, health system organization and financing, and change theory. Students also complete community projects as part of this course sequence. Evaluation is ongoing throughout the 5 semester experience. There is a semester by semester evaluation of the objectives defined for the community engagement each semester as well as a portfolio-based evaluation of student progress at the end of the program. NCLEX scores are always above the national mean, and have been above 95% for the last several years. Faculty have noted that students develop strong leadership skills and a stronger sense of personal efficacy as they progress through the 5 semester community engagement experience. Students of the program are valued by local employers for their strong skills. While systematic follow-up of program graduates has not yet been done, anecdotal reports indicate that students remain interested in public health nursing and many seek employment in this nursing specialty.
The nursing faculty have published the results of this integrated undergraduate nursing curriculum in various journals and have also presented their results at academic conferences.
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Kruger, B. J., Roush, C., Olinzock, B. J. & Bloom, K. (2010). Engaging nursing students in a long-term relationship with a home-base community. Journal of Nursing Education. 49(1), 10-16.
Olinzock, B. J., Kruger, B. J., Wilburn, S. T., Wilburn, K. T. & Roush, C. (2009). Building a baccalaureate community nursing curriculum using a participatory evaluation approach. The Health Care Manager, 28(1), 1-7.
Kruger, B. J., Ahrens, W. D., Miller, D., Soles, E., Connelly, L. & Turrin, T. (2008). Blackboard unites service-learning partnerships. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 12(1), 148-152.
Olinzock, B. J., Kruger, B. J., Roush, C. S., Wilburn, K., & Wilburn S. (2013, July). A participatory approach to development of the community nursing student assessment scale (CNSAS) to measure student learning outcomes. Paper presented at the 24th International Nursing Research Congress, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Prague Czech Republic.
Kruger, B. J., Wilburn, K., Olinzock, B. J., & Roush, C. S. (2013, July). Quantitative results from evaluation of community student service-learning in the UNF Home-base Model. Paper presented at the 24th International Nursing Research Congress, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Prague Czech Republic, July 2013.
Roush, C. S., Kruger, B. J., & Olinzock, B. J., & (2013, July). Qualitative findings from an evaluation of community student service-learning in the UNF Home-base Model. Paper presented at the 24th International Nursing Research Congress, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Prague Czech Republic.
Pope, B. L., Olinzock, B. J., Roush, C. S., & Kruger, B. J. (2013, July). Participatory evaluation of community outcomes of student service-learning. Paper presented at the 24th International Nursing Research Congress, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Prague Czech Republic.
Lillia Loriz, PhD, GNP, BC
Professor and Director, School of Nursing
University of North Florida
Brooks College of Health