University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ (UMDNJ) and Rutgers University
Overview of the Curriculum Innovation
UMDNJ surveyed public health nurses in the state of New Jersey. 75 public health nurses participated in this study. Out of this study the public health MSN program was developed in 2009. Since then, the program has had 16 participants. In the program students are required to take epidemiology and biostatistics in the School of Public Health. Students who are interested in pursuing the Doctor of Nurse Practitioner degree at a later time can transfer these courses. The program incorporates clinical field practice into all courses, so students can built a consistent field experience. The program emphasizes collaboration and leadership as well as emphasis on population based health care. Before the field assignment the student is interviewed on what he/she likes and their interests. The students are then placed in a site that can provide experience with a population of interest and matched with an appropriate field preceptor. Examples of partners involved in this program include community based organizations, local public health departments, and federally qualified health clinics. For example, in a community-based project students collaborated with outreach workers in conducting home assessments and prenatal follow-ups in the community. Students are expected to choose 1 or 2 course objectives and focus on those during their weekly field practice experience. Each student then develops a product based on the need of the organization, his/her learning interest and the course objectives. The student also has the opportunity to attend events/activities such as Board of Health meetings as part of the clinical experience. An interesting example of impact was provided. A public health nursing student placed in a local public health department found a gap in STI follow-up. The student found the language on the follow up handouts required a high level of reading comprehension. She developed a pocket-sized easy to read card with steps on how to follow-up after an STI appointment. This product has been very successful and is being used in the clinic with the goal to find funding to reproduce and distribute the product to other DOH in the state of New Jersey.
Program evaluation is done jointly by preceptors and faculty with students based on course objectives and completion of a final filed project. Course evaluation rubrics are used and students are expected to develop a weekly journal (begins after 2 weeks) to describe their progress and accomplishments. Faculty use the clinical experiences to build on the required MSN field project. The rubric and journal example are available on request.
Frances Munet, PhD, MSN
University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ and Rutgers University