Northern Kentucky University

Northern Kentucky University

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Overview of Curriculum Innovation

The Nurse Advocacy Center for the Underserved (NACU) was established in 2003 by nursing faculty at Northern Kentucky University who recognized that there was an ever widening gap in health services for the poor in the community.  Faculty and community health nursing students partner with agencies to assist underserved clients in managing their health problems and gaining access to necessary primary health care services. Baccalaureate students are placed in NACU sites 1 day a week for 8 weeks and they earn academic clinical credit for their work.  Students develop rapport with community members and appreciation for the concepts of social justice and equal access to necessary care as they develop their clinical assignments.  Students work alongside faculty and volunteer R.N.s to provide clinical support services such as health screening, Blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring, and basic wound care.  Clinical sites include places where the homeless gather including an emergency overnight shelter and church which serves twice weekly free meals; subsidized public housing sites; and two residential substance abuse treatment centers for men and women. They also learn population assessment and observational skills as they work in the NACU sites.  Implementation of the NACU services is important since the underserved community uses the emergency room when other services are not available.  In areas where nurses are working emergency room use has decreased by 70%.  The critical element that assures effectiveness is the partnership with the community and the trust relationship that has been built over time.  The NACU is in its 10th year of operation and has been very effective in providing safety-net care in urban areas that are not well linked with the health services infrastructure.  The NACU is increasingly important to the community and as a public health nursing teaching opportunity since public health department that also worked with students has experienced recent budget constraints. 

Contact

Kristine Pfendt, Associate Professor
Northern Kentucky University
pfendtk@nku.edu