University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago

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Overview of the curriculum innovation

The University of Illinois at Chicago received an education grant from HRSA, Bureau of Health Professions to establish a project focused on advancing public health nursing education in Illinois (APHNE).  The project design was based on an analysis of the gaps in knowledge, skills, and training identified by practicing public health nurses in Illinois as well as identified curriculum improvements for basic and advanced public health nursing training.  The organization of the APHNE project ensured representation from members of the local and state health departments, school health practitioners, occupational health providers, and academic partners.  A state advisory board was established together with five regional consortia to represent all areas in the State of Illinois.  A continuing education program was established for practicing public health nurses.  Curriculum innovations at the University of Illinois were also completed to provide flexible degree options that allowed students to progress quickly to an MSN with a public health nursing specialization, or to the DNP degree.  The MS/MPH was also an option.  The curriculum innovations were designed to strengthen the population health focus in the basic nursing curriculum and to enable a smooth transition between undergraduate and graduate levels of training.  This was accomplished through the design of a graduate entry program (GEP) that supported seamless progression from RN to graduate education in public health.  The curriculum changes resulted in a 400% increase in public health nursing graduate students and was judged to be successful by the program participants.  The continuing education program also strengthened the skills and knowledge of health department nurses both in the practice of public health nursing and in the ability to work collaboratively with other professionals to support population health.  Further outcome and impact evaluation studies are in process as are several publications summarizing the APHNE initiative.


Kathleen A. Baldwin, PhD, RN
Director, Peoria Regional Program
College of Nursing
University of Illinois, Chicago
Telephone: (309) 671-8467