Community and public health outreach and local to global experiences are at the top of the list for why students come to Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) and for what they do while earning their undergraduate and graduate degrees.
In the 2010-2011 academic year, the number of students gaining hands-on learning experiences--while providing much-needed local community service--has increased by more than 44% with 104 baccalaureate students now as compared to 72 in the 2008-2009 academic year. The number of community outreach sites they serve--the free clinics, school and neighborhood health programs, and community-based organizations--has also recently grown from 17 last year to 22.
The JHUSON Community Outreach Program (COP) was initially established in 1991 as the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Fellows Program (RPCV). Students who had served in the Peace Corps returned to the U.S. and participated in the program, fulfilling the third goal of the Peace Corps mission: Bringing the world back home. Since its inception, RPCVs have been required to participate in the Community Outreach Program as part of their Fellowship. More than 300 have completed the RPCV program while at JHUSON.
Today, the Community Outreach Program is open to all undergraduate students for academic credit. Those who participate are placed in selected community sites, including either JHUSON-run programs and centers or community partnerships that have been established by SOURCE (Student Outreach Resource Center). Many of the JHUSON nurse-led programs are components of the School's East Baltimore Community Nursing Centers and include the Lillian Wald Community Nursing Center, a WIC program, a health suite in the House of Ruth, Maryland, a domestic violence shelter, and the Isaiah Wellness Center in Apostolic Towers, a senior citizen residency complex.
"Our students desire to have the hands-on experience in the community that can't be replicated in a classroom," said Program director and professor Phyllis Sharps, PhD, RN, CNE, chair of the JHUSON department of Community Public Health. "They're coming to Hopkins because we offer that experience."
JHUSON graduate students are also contributing to an increased community presence, both locally and globally. Many are returning to the scenes of their undergraduate community-based experiences in Baltimore and throughout the world. JHUSON Dean Martha N. Hill, PhD, RN, sees evidence of Hopkins Nursing's role in creating tomorrow's community-public health nurse leaders in the growing number of students in the combined Johns Hopkins Master's of Science in Nursing/Master's in Public Health degree program, the enhanced and increased opportunities for master's and doctoral-level students to participate in community-based practice and research--here and abroad--and the increasingly global replication of community-based practice and research originating in Baltimore.
Hill paraphrases the famous politics quote of the late Speaker of the House Thomas P. (Tip) ONeil, Jr., to note: "All nursing is local--we can never ignore our own backyard. What we do for our community--and then take to other neighborhoods and communities--creates the world experiences and learning we bring back home."