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.

Students in our MS Option in Nursing program

You will take one 2-credit Community Nursing Partnership course (NUR 538) Community Nursing Partnership Clinical for MS Option Students during their fall semester for a total of 2 credits. This course incorporates 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

Faculty: Marcia Goldenberg, MS, RN

Availability: Fall, Spring and Summer NUR 538 Fall, NUR 436/437 Spring/Summer

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 Community Partnership

Faculty: Susan Sepples, Ph.D., CCRN, and Susan R. Clement, MSN, RN

Availability: Fall and Spring Semesters, NUR 339, 341

Bayside is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the state of Maine, home of immigrants and refugees from many countries as well as many long-term Portland residents. It is a major center for social services, public housing, city government, and small businesses.

Students in the Bayside Community Nursing Partnership work with Portland's most underserved and vulnerable, including: adults and families experiencing homelessness, the working poor, the elderly poor, refugees, and asylum seekers.  USM students partner with community members, community professionals, committed faculty, and one another to assess community needs and develop outcome-based intervention to support physical and mental health and cultural and community safety. Students engage in visioning and advancing new and on-going upstream initiatives while developing skills of both leadership and followership.

If you want to broaden your perspective, better understand the human story, challenge your assumptions, and enhance your nursing education… become a USM Bayside Nurse.    

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

Casco Bay Community Partnership

Faculty:  Jessica Vickerson-Abbatiello, FNP, MSN, MSW, and Andrea Danielson, MSN, ANP

Availability: Fall and Spring Semesters: NUR 339, 341, 538

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)

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:


Healthy Aging/Elder Life Program

Faculty: Noreen Byrne Vincent, MS, RN

Availability: Fall, Spring, and Summer (NUR 339, 341, 436, 437, 538)

The Maine Medical Center Elder Life Program (HELP) Partnership is a very dynamic partnership in which students work to improve and maintain the health of Portland area seniors.  During this course we work primarily with the MMC Elder Life Program. This is an evidenced-based program where students regularly participate in a very successful intervention to reduce the incidence of delirium (temporary cognitive decline) among hospitalized elders.  The program assists older patients at MMC to maintain: maximal independence, physical and cognitive functioning and spiritual well-being. Students will work within the structure of an interdisciplinary team focused on maintaining the elder’s health during the hospital experience.  In addition to volunteer activities with HELP patients, students will also have the opportunity to work with the Elder Life Specialist RN in the process of patient assessment and enrollment in the program as well as evaluate program effectiveness when participating in multidisciplinary rounds for HELP patients

In addition, students may have the opportunity to participate in selected community-based programs aimed at elder wellness and health enhancement.  As a part of these programs, students may participate in community assessment, program planning, administration of the programs, and program evaluation.  Through this partnership, students may have a variety of opportunities to participate in health-oriented activities with area seniors.

Students will be expected to meet with their faculty and classmates on a regular basis and spend a total of 56 hours each semester on clinical activities (time in the community setting, seminar time, skills training, and additional group meetings).  As in any course, there is an expectation that additional time will be spent reading, preparing for activities and projects, and other coursework. Students will attend Thursday seminars as scheduled but are expected to complete their clinical hours on other days in conjunction with the MMC elder care needs, which may include weekend and evening hours.


L/A Community CARE Partnership

Faculty: Cynthia Randall DNP, MS, RN, CNL

Availability: Spring, Summer and Fall Semesters, NUR 339, 341, 436, 437

The CARE stands for Cancer, Awareness, Resources & Education.

A diagnosis of cancer often puts individuals and families in the midst of a storm. Meeting the needs of those diagnosed and living with cancer is an important focus, however, this partnership goes beyond that to anticipate and plan for the storm.  The Community CARE partnership, developed in 2012, is an evolving engagement with a community dedicated both to patients with cancer and the rural communities in which they live, work and study. Student projects are developed in collaboration with community partners and in response to community assessment.  Students partner with professionals, members and organizations of Maine communities to share and teach cancer prevention strategies and awareness in a variety of settings to promote health and wellness.

In this partnership, students focus on outreach 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!).  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 meet the educational and developmental needs of the target audience.  Come join us and help our communities weather the storm! 

Lewiston Community Health: Kennedy Park Partnerships

Faculty:  Karen Chan Zuckerman, MSN, RN

Availability: Fall and Spring Semesters NUR 339, 341

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.


Rural Community Partnership 

Faculty: Patricia Thompson Leavitt, DNP, FNP and Jeanne Gottlieb, Ph.D., CNM

Availability: Spring, Summer (second half) and Fall Semesters, NUR 339/341/436/437

Site: Leavitt’s Mill Free Health Center (LMFHC), Bar Mills (Buxton), ME and surrounding community

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

This partnership was established in the summer of 2017. To date, the students have performed a modified community assessment and reached out the local community offering health screenings. Activities in the Fall semester include ongoing community assessment, Flu shot clinics and HIV/HepC screenings, and wellness offerings at local non-clinic venues. Students have developed a mental health/wellness focus for the partnership based on the ongoing community assessment. Activities that will be offered at LMFHC will involve mental health wellness. In the Spring semester, students will engage LMFHC clients in a 5K fun walk/run and a “couch to 5K” program in addition to other wellness activities for LMFHC clients and the local community.


Sagamore Health Clinic

Faculty: Abbey Darus, MPH, MS, RN

Availability: Spring, Summer and Fall Semesters, NUR 339, 341, 436, 437

The School of Nursing has had a collaborative partnership with the residents of Sagamore Village since 1991. A Portland public housing community, Sagamore Village houses approximately 500 low-income residents of all ages living in 200 units. The Sagamore Health Resource Center is a community-based nurse-managed clinic that provides primary care, public health, and mental health services to the residents. The Center is managed by faculty from the School of Nursing in collaboration with the residents, Portland Housing Authority, and Maine Medical Center. Students work with residents of varied ages, cultural backgrounds, and states of health. Students have opportunities to advocate for residents with other providers, such as physicians, home care and public health nurses, and social agency staff. In partnership with Sagamore residents, students assess community needs and develop community-based interventions. Over the past several years, the School of Nursing has developed a partnership of mutual trust and respect with the people of Sagamore Village.

Read a student testimonial about the Sagamore Village Community Partnership


  • To increase primary health care and community-based services
  • To provide clinical experiences for students, focusing on a culturally diverse and vulnerable population.
  • Student Learning Activities
  • Assessment and screening, case management, education, referral and consultation, group project work

Collaborative Partners:

  • Tenants Council
  • Residents
  • Portland School Nurses
  • Portland Public Health
  • Maine Medical Center
  • Portland Housing Authority
  • Rural Community Partnership


Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) Home Health Hospice Partnership

Faculty: Linda Samia, Ph.D., RN

Availability: Spring NUR 339, Fall NUR 341

This partnership with VNA Home Health Hospice provides an opportunity for students to experience home care, palliative care, hospice nursing, and interprofessional practice. Students also participate in community-wide initiatives. 

The VNA Home Health Hospice nursing staff and educators work with students in small groups and one-on-one to introduce students to the key aspects of home care. Students will be visiting patients in their homes as well as participating in community health education projects and flu vaccine clinics. Over the course of 2 semesters, students apply the nursing process to individuals, families, and the community.

This partnership will require eligible students to:

  1. Have some flexibility in their schedule. We will meet on Thursday mornings in the early weeks but there will be times over the course of the semester when you will need to flex your schedule to spend full days with a home care or hospice nurse in the field and participate in other agency activities.
  2. Have some interest in community nursing with possible intent to practice in home care, palliative care, or hospice as a new graduate. For some students, this partnership may evolve into future externship and/or practicum opportunities.
  3. Demonstrate consistent self-directed learning.
  4. Have strong communication skills.
  5. Be accountable for professional behavior in multiple clinical settings including patients’ homes.
  6. Come prepared having done required prep work.
  7. Be dependable and motivated.
  8. Contribute to the development and refinement of this new endeavor.