School of Nursing

Community Nursing Partnerships

The University of Southern Maine (USM) School of Nursing is strengthening Maine’s future through partnerships in education. 

Students in our traditional BS in Nursing program

You will take two 2-credit Community Nursing Partnership courses (NUR 339, NUR 341) for a total of 4 credits. 

This sequence of courses incorporates the concepts of partnership building, risk identification, and health promotion within a community-based context. Students will collaborate with community partners to develop an understanding of both short- and long-term needs of the community. Problem posing and problem-solving will come from the community. Students will engage in ongoing community assessment, support communities in developing long-term interventions/approaches and engage in evaluation of community-level practice. Students will identify individuals and families within their communities who would benefit from individual and family-based nursing assessment, planning, intervention, and evaluation. Prior to or concurrent with their first partnership course students must take CON 356, Concepts in Community Health.

Students must stay with one partnership, making it important to students to choose a partnership of high interest. If a student leaves or withdraws from one partnership, the student must start the new partnership from the beginning course.

Students in our Accelerated BS in Nursing program

You will take two 2-credit Community Nursing Partnership courses (NUR 436/437) for a total of 4 credits. These two sequential courses incorporate the concepts of partnership building, risk identification, risk reduction, and health promotion within a community-based context. Students work with selected communities that are developing long-term solutions to previously identified health problems.


Our Community Partnerships

Amistad Partnership — Currently on Hiatus, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021

Faculty: Marcia Goldenberg, MS, RN

Availability: Currently on Hiatus

The School of Nursing began a partnership with the Amistad community in Fall of 2011. Amistad is a community center in Portland for individuals living with severe and persistent mental illness with a focus on peer support and peer management.  It is a safe place for its members to gather, socialize, participate in learning groups, and share a daily meal. Amistad members take an active role in staffing the center, running programs and serving on the board of directors.  Amistad is committed to a recovery model of mental illness – that each individual can and deserves to live a full, productive life and to be treated with respect and dignity. It is a tenet of this model that having the support of others who also live with mental health issues is one of the most effective ways of achieving this goal.  The staff and members are also active in advocating for changes in the mental health system. Although Amistad is not a treatment center, it is staffed by seasoned professionals; most identify as “peers”, having been consumers of mental health services themselves.

Work with outside agencies and programs is encouraged wherever possible.  Students have invited speakers from the service community to attend a seminar and discuss topics that range from how the police engage with mental health crises to what services are offered to homeless members of the community.

The staff and members of Amistad have a great appreciation for a student presence at the center.  During partnership hours students are encouraged to offer basic nursing interventions (blood pressure monitoring, weight management support, guidance about nutrition, e.g.) as a service to members and as a way to develop relationships.  Students are asked to develop individual or team projects based on member input and interest that provide an intervention on a weekly basis. Examples of student-led interventions are: relaxation group; discussion group; diabetic foot check and screening; walking group; nutrition education sessions; letter writing group; and routine blood pressure and blood glucose screening and general education about health maintenance.  Each semester culminates with a health fair where students create posters and displays about various health topics.

Bayside North Community Partnership

Faculty: Susan Sepples, Ph.D., CCRN

Availability: Fall and Spring Semesters

This partnership meets at 24 Stone Street in Unity Village in the Bayside Community of Portland and may attend clinics within walking distance of that location.

Students in the Bayside-North partnership work in direct client care as well as in the roles of advocate and partner in community-based outreach. Students provide clinic and home visits at Franklin Towers in collaborative practice with Portland Housing and the Greater Portland Health primary care satellite clinic. Working with the city of Portland, the public health department, and the Maine Access Immigrant Network, students develop an understanding of the transitions for immigrant families and asylum seekers in the first months of relocation.

Students develop skills in communication, assessment, client teaching, networking, and partnering. Reflective practice focuses on assessing and understanding needs, exploring existing resources and extending provider reach in service to this community. Leadership and followership, teamwork and collaboration, and developing empathy and compassion are critical components of this work.

The focus on this clinical work is to develop an understanding and real-world view of the issues of poverty, chronic illness, aging and assimilation for the working poor, the new Mainer, families in transition (refugees, asylum seekers, and their families). Students develop relationships, assess and understand the current system of care and resources and work with our communities, community stakeholders, and health and social service providers as they develop an understanding of social justice, advocacy, and the power of relationship. This partnership is multilevel, with students in both their 339 and 341 semesters working together. 341 students provide peer leadership and, having spent a semester in assessing and understanding the community, engage in evidence-based interventions to address a community need in their area of interest (such as a children’s reading group, a community watch program, a home visit program for post-hospitalization and to extend primary care services, organizing a flu clinic, extending partnership into other community groups).

Please note:

  • Students taking this course as NUR 339 are expected to do one community meeting outside of the normally scheduled course time in MaineStreet.
  • Students taking the course as NUR 341 may have one or more meetings outside of the normally scheduled course time in MaineStreet.

While there is minimal preparation for this partnership, it is required that students take part in peer-led seminars (and having read the article or watched the TED talk is vital to active and engaged participation). Students also engage in weekly peer debriefing using components of appreciative and compassionate inquiry, and students at both beginning and leadership levels spend some time every week reflecting on their practice. At the second level (the leadership semester) students engage in a literature review, develop a proposal and a budget and evaluate their interventions in a formal presentation to peers. We welcome you to join us in Bayside where nursing students have been making a difference for almost two decades!

You can read more about this partnership in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of USM Connects Magazine.

Campus Health Partnership

Faculty: Amanda Parenteau, BSN

Availability: Fall and Spring Semesters

This partnership allows students a unique opportunity to work in conjunction with USM’s Health and Counseling staff and providers to assess and evaluate the needs of our own campus population. 

Efforts and goals of the partnership are student-driven, identified after brainstorming efforts, and the development of a needs assessment. Currently identified areas of need include undergraduate students’ general health attitudes, mental health, substance abuse, sexual health, student-athlete needs, non-traditional student needs, sleep hygiene, and beyond.

This partnership is largely research-driven, asking students to formulate questions about their own personal, and their peers’, health and wellness attitudes. 

We meet on-campus weekly, including once a month with the staff of USM’s Health and Counseling department. There may be 2-4 occasions throughout the semester that may require student availability outside of weekly meetings. From letter-writing to fundraising, to survey formulation, to developing and implementing self-identified health initiatives, students can expect to participate in public health nursing at the grassroots level. Campus health partnership invites students to advocate for their own community, USM. 


Campus Safety Project Partnership

Faculty: Patricia Connors

Availability: Fall and Spring Semesters

In this partnership, students collaborate with the USM Campus Safety Project.  


Casco Bay Community Partnership

Faculty:  Sonya LaChance, DNP, MPA, RN, NP-C (Fall 2020), Tara Casimir PhD, BSN (Spring 2021)

Availability: Fall and Spring Semesters

The Casco Bay Fishing and Community Partnership is primarily focused on those individuals and families who make their living in the commercial fishing industry, and those living on the remote islands in Casco Bay. Commercial fishing is one of the most hazardous occupations in which one can be engaged. Data gathered by the partnership demonstrates that fishing families are frequently uninsured and often deal with emotional and financial hardships which greatly affect their health status. Individuals often do not seek routine preventive health screening, thus significant health care needs go unmet for many in the community.

Students in the partnership participate in a variety of activities.  All students must participate in at least one direct care activity each semester, for example, a flu shot clinic, a health screening clinic, or a health education program in an island elementary school. Fundraising activities, for the purpose of obtaining supplies and equipment used for screening clinics, are also a part of the partnership activities.

The Partnership meets 6-8 times each semester in 2-hour seminars. Students use the remainder of their time in self-directed activities, for example, gathering data about their constituent community, meeting to plan the logistics of bringing flu shot and screening clinics to island populations, participating in health screening clinics, developing the health promotion/health education modules to be used at island schools, or participating in fundraising activities.  Students have the opportunity to develop and expand management and leadership skills.

This is a "from the ground up," ground-breaking experience in a community partnership for health which provides an adventure for those who can deal with the unknown.

Dominican Republic (International Nursing: The USM Health Outreach Project) — Currently on hiatus, due to COVID travel restrictions

Faculty: Alex Beggs, MS, MPH, RN and Corinna Bellwood, MS, FNP

Availability: Fall (1 credit NUR 326/436) with Winter 3 credit trip (327/437);  Spring (1 credit NUR 326/436) with Summer 3 credit trip (NUR 327/437).

This community partnership offers undergraduates the opportunity to participate in a unique international nursing experience. RN to BS, Accelerated BS, MS Option, and graduate students, as well as other health professionals, interpreters, and community volunteers, participate with undergraduates in this project. At the heart of the project are the 2-week primary health care missions that take place in the rural villages and serve over 2000 patients of all ages, many of whom are known to us already. Care is delivered by teams of students and interpreters working together with faculty and preceptor support in daily clinics, health education chats, and home and hospital visits.

Students and volunteers will meet regularly in the semesters before and after the missions to learn about the needs of this population and to seek out donations of funds or medicines and supplies that have been identified as needed. We will work with the Hispanic and immigrant population in Maine to forge ties with this partnership. Students may choose to enter into the fall, winter and spring sequence or the spring, summer, and fall sequence.

Students and volunteers will meet regularly in the semesters before and after the missions to learn about the needs of this population and to seek out donations of funds or medicines and supplies that have been identified as needed. We will work with the Hispanic and immigrant population in Maine to forge ties with this partnership.

Information about trip cost including transportation, lodging, and travel costs can be found through the International Programs page linked below. Because this is a major service project, many students since 1994 have been able to raise these funds not only from family and personal budgets but also from USM financial aid, fundraisers, scholarships and service organizations. It is a big commitment but it is also a life-changing experience that you will never forget.

For deadlines, application instructions, and cost information please visit our Office of International Programs site.

Watch a video about Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic:


Harm Reduction Partnership

Faculty: Jamie Freeman, RN and Christine Curtis, RN

Availability: Fall, Spring, and Summer 

Students in the Harm Reduction Partnership will learn to define what "harm reduction" is and give local and current examples of agencies doing work in this area of expertise. Students will learn about the Portland Needle Exchange Program and STD Clinic services at India Street Public Health as well as other local resources that are helpful for community members. As part of the partnership, students will learn about and participate in all aspects of the STD clinic, including but not limited to: education about various STDs, testing and treatment, outreach to communities including partnering with University's Health Center. Also, students will view Portland Needle Exchange data, local overdose rates and demographic information from the naloxone distribution program, and discuss current drug trends and the impact opioids are having on the drug-using community. Students will also engage in a conversation regarding the importance of language, especially in relation to how it impacts patients' relationships with health care and a medical home and learn ways to create space in a primary care setting so community members feel empowered and ready to make positive changes.  


L/A Community CARE Partnership

Faculty: Mariah Pfiefer, RN.

Availability: Spring, Summer and Fall Semesters

The Community CARE (Cancer, Awareness, Resources, and Education) partnership is a dynamic collaboration with various community organizations focused on outreach education related to cancer prevention and wellness in the community. Cancer rates in Maine are higher than the national average and the leading cause of death in our state. According to the Maine Cancer Foundation, “nearly 50% of all cancers can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices; 1/3 of cancer deaths can be avoided with early detection, and 100% of people facing cancer need access to the best care Maine can provide.” Come be a part of this important effort.

Student projects are developed in collaboration with community partners and in response to state-wide needs for cancer care, access, and prevention. Students partner with state-wide professionals and organizations to teach cancer prevention strategies and share awareness in a variety of settings to promote health and wellness.

In this partnership, students focus on education across community settings including: middle and high schools, senior centers, college campuses, workplaces, and recreational settings (you may find us on the ski slopes in winter and the beaches in summer!). This course requires some flexibility in students’ schedules and may require some travel to accomplish the partnership’s outreach goals. Students are encouraged to develop unique and fun approaches to cancer awareness and prevention, develop skills in teaching, health literacy, and learn to focus outreach education to the target audience.  Come join us and help our communities fight cancer! 

Lewiston Community Health: Kennedy Park Partnerships - ON HIATUS SPRING 2021

Faculty:  Karen Chan Zuckerman, MSN, RN

Availability: Fall and Spring Semesters

The city of Lewiston, Maine is in a period of transition.  The Franco-American heritage, beautiful cathedrals and churches, and large factory mills speak to a rich past that continues to impact the city today.  More recent additions to the city are seen on the main downtown thoroughfare of Lisbon Street: multiple Somali groceries, markets, and cafes. Kennedy Park is a public green space that is home to the farmer’s market in the summer.  It is bordered by a police substation and skate park. Central Maine Medical Center and St. Mary’s Hospital serve as the regional hospitals.

USM Nursing students who select this partnership will be working in small groups at one of four partnership sites: Trinity Jubilee Center, Center for Wisdom’s Women, Blake Street Towers, and Meadowview Apartments.   Each site has its own subculture and population:

  • Trinity Jubilee Center is a drop-in, hang out for homeless, disenfranchised individuals and families who wait for the free lunch that is served daily.  It also serves the refugee community as a food distribution center and advocacy center that helps those in need find services. In the afternoon, and on school holidays, the Center is also where students can receive tutoring by Bates College student volunteers.
  • Center for Wisdom’s Women is a non-profit Women’s Center that offers community, support, counseling, and classes.  Staffed mostly by volunteers, it serves disenfranchised women, many with a history of trauma, abuse, and/or chronic illness.
  • Blake Street Towers is a residential multi-story apartment building that is run by Lewiston Housing Authority.  The residents have demonstrated a need for subsidized housing. The population is split between two groups: the elderly and younger, disabled residents.
  • Meadowview Apartments is a cluster of townhouse-style buildings also run by Lewiston Housing Authority.  The residents here are primarily elderly, many with an active lifestyle.

Students who choose to participate in the Lewiston Partnership are encouraged to voice a preference to work at a specific site, but are not guaranteed to work at the site.  The needs of the site dictate where students are placed.

As students participate in community engagement via weekly blood pressure clinics; they develop trust and relationships with their clients. The clients look forward to seeing the students and seeking their attention and advice.  Some just like to have a listening ear to share their stories.

As students assess the needs unique to their site, they may also offer medication education, diet and exercise support, smoking cessation information, stress management, and safety promotion. Health referrals are made as needed.  Health fairs have been a successful draw at some sites.

The community partnership functions as a clinical experience in community health nursing.  Students are expected to demonstrate consistency and ethical behavior to their course partners, instructor, and clients. Participation consists of weekly work at their sites, research outside of class, preparation and communication to set up events and scheduling, self-reflective journaling and resource sharing online at Blackboard.  Classes meet as a whole in seminars that are held at the LAC campus, at the beginning and end of every semester and intermittently after bp clinics on certain weeks. Students may additionally choose to further engage with the community by volunteering at Lewiston health-related events such as The Dempsey Challenge, The Great American Smoke Out, or dental screening clinics to name a few examples.  Students also demonstrate community engagement by attending special event lectures that help them understand the complexities of the healthcare system, cultural issues, healthcare policy and its effects on our population, health literacy, etc. The partnership is constantly evolving as we look to deepen our ties within the community.


Preble Street Partnership

Faculty: Susan R. Clement, MSN, RN

Availability: Fall and Spring Semesters

The Preble Street Community Nursing Partnership serves the homeless community utilizing services located in Portland’s Bayside section. Our Partnership students enjoy the privilege of being welcomed into the spaces that serve the homeless community, which include Preble Street, the City of Portland, Greater Portland Healthcare, The Learning Collaborative, The Milestone Foundation, and The Main Action Immigration Network.  

“Doing with” rather than “doing for.” This principle guides our practice as we seek to work ethically and professionally as community health nurses.  

What we do:

  • We meet in the community for a weekly seminar.  
  • Seminars are student-led. The topics and supporting materials are selected to address learning outcomes.
  • We operate student nurse walk-in clinics located at the Preble Street Resource Center, the Oxford Street Shelter and the Florence House.  

The mission of our clinics is to provide each client with a positive experience with a healthcare provider.  Students learn the skill of engaging clients who have often been marginalized from society and the healthcare system. Students use health screening services, health promotion, and risk reduction counseling, and responding to client questions, in order to break down barriers, develop relationships and trust.

  • Additionally, clinical practice will include participation in community meetings and shadowing experiences with our highly skilled and dedicated professional partners.
  • We grow community amongst ourselves to effectively support each other in this very rewarding and challenging work. We do this through class engagement, primarily seminar discussions and debriefing.


RCAM — Rural Community Action Ministry Partnership

Faculty: Brenda Petersen, PhD, MSN, RN, APRN-BC, CPNP-PC

Availability:  Fall, Spring, and Summer Semsters

This is a joint partnership with Lewiston Housing Authority and Rural Community Action Ministry in Leeds. This partnership focuses on improving health outcomes of vulnerable populations that face food insecurity, hunger and risk for homelessness. Students have the opportunity to support both rural and suburban/urban communities with a goal of improving health literacy through supportive collaborative action. Students in this partnership may in telehealth and other activities as the work to identify and support the health needs of rural Mainers.  


Rural Community Partnership 

Faculty: Jeanne Gottlieb, Ph.D., CNM

Availability: Spring and Summer for Accelerated Students.

Site: Bar Mills (Buxton), ME and surrounding community

Students will occasionally meet in Portland or Gorham for training during the semester. Students plan activities for health fairs that occur on Saturday once or twice within a semester.  Students also travel to Alfred, Maine to provide flu shots and educational sessions to the York County Shelter residents.

Focus Population: Low-income rural dwelling residents. The local communities are small towns bordering on the Saco River in York County.

This partnership was established in the summer of 2017. To date, the students have performed a modified community assessment which is continued each semester. The development and planning of partnership activities is based upon the student interactions with community agencies and stakeholders. Activities include immunization clinics, BP/HIV/Hepatitis C screenings, 5K Fun Run/Walks, and wellness offerings at local non-clinic venues. Local connections have been made with municipal organizations, non-profit organizations, local businesses, and county agencies to coordinate and host partnership activities.


Sagamore Vikkage

Faculty: Paula Nersesian, PhD, MPH, RN

Availability: Spring and Fall Semesters

Sagamore Village is a Portland Housing Authority community with 200 units that provides housing for approximately 500 residents who have low wealth. The residents represent ages across the lifespan and many cultures. The School of Nursing works in partnership with the Portland Housing Authority and Greater Portland Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center that operates a primary care facility on-site.

At this site, students apply the nursing process at the individual, family, and community levels. Students interact with Sagamore Village residents, Portland Housing Authority staff, Greater Portland Health staff, and community leaders to assess community needs and assets, and develop and implement community-based interventions. Students also make home visits in pairs to residents’ homes to address individual and family needs. Since the School of Nursing partnership with Sagamore Village residents was established in 1991, trust and mutual respect have served as the drivers of community- and family-based interventions that students lead at this community nursing partnership site.

Loring House is a nearby housing development for older adults and people with disabilities. Students meet in pairs with residents in the Loring House community room and provide individual and family level interventions primarily consisting of health teaching and consultation regarding chronic disease management.

Read a student testimonial about the Sagamore Village Community Partnership