College of Science, Technology, and Health

USM School of Nursing Students Partnering with the Community

School of Nursing students and faculty at the University of Southern Maine care for the people in Maine through participation in one of eleven community partnerships. Each community partnership incorporates relationship building, risk identification, and health promotion within a community-based context. Students obtain an understanding of the community’s needs and develop interventions to address those needs. Each of the eleven community partnerships has a unique focus.

The Casco Bay Fishing and Islands Community Partnership focuses on individuals and families in the commercial fishing industry, and people living on remote islands in Casco Bay. Students plan and implement health screening clinics on Long, Cliff and Chebeaque Islands and at the annual Fishermen’s Forum in Rockland. The Bayside Neighborhood Partnership promotes wellness for working poor and homeless individuals through health screenings, holiday support activities, mentoring young people, medication education, and a yearly health fair. With the Parkside Community Nursing Partnership, students identify the needs of individuals and families from many nationalities, some of whom are refugees or seeking asylum, and match the needs with community-based programs currently being offered.

Nursing students with the Ocean Avenue Elementary School Partnership in Portland mentor a child for two semesters, teach health-related topics in the classroom and work closely with the School Nurse. Through the Amistad Partnership, based at the Amistad Peer Support and Recovery Center in Portland, students provide health screenings and other supports to individuals who live with severe and persistent mental illness and many other life stressors, such as homelessness, chemical dependency, and chronic diseases. The Greater Portland Older Adult Partnership, in collaboration with the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, promotes healthy aging and disease prevention to older adults. This intergenerational experience provides shared learning among students and older adults, with opportunities to learn self-care strategies and have fun. In the Maine Medical Center Elderlife Program Community Partnership, students learn to improve and maintain the health of older adults focusing on supporting the individual’s independence, physical and cognitive functioning and spiritual well-being.

The Dominican Republic Community Partnership offers an international service-learning experience where students spend two weeks in Dominican rural communities assessing public health issues, delivering primary health care, and making home visits to approximately 2,000 clients of all ages.  In the Sagamore Health Clinic Community Partnership, students work to provide care for Sagamore Village’s roughly 500 low-income residents. The Sagamore Health Resource Center provides primary care, public health and mental health services for the residents of Sagamore Village, and is managed by faculty from the School of Nursing in collaboration with the residents, Portland Housing Authority and Maine Medical Center.

Two community partnerships focus on the needs of residents in the Lewiston-Auburn area. In the Lewiston Community Partnership, students work at drop-in centers, women's resource centers, and low-income housing units to assist clients with their health management. Students partner with several agencies to support community members including the elderly, homeless, poor, and disenfranchised. The aim is to meet community members where they are and work with them to make incremental changes toward improved health. In the L/A Community CARE (Cancer, Awareness, Resources and Education) Partnership students assess resources and needs in the community for patients with cancer and interact with patients as they experience activities that enrich their lives. This partnership represents an experience in which students may share some of the most difficult yet moving moments in a cancer patient's life.

Through community partnerships, USM’s School of Nursing is able to deliver services that are much needed by communities in Maine while providing experiences that are central to the education of nursing students. The community-based context allows students to learn the barriers that exist regarding a community’s health-related issues and develop strategies to address the community’s needs.