University of Washington
Overview of the Curriculum Innovation
The University of Washington has established three major academic/practice partnerships based on the participatory action research model. These multi-year partnerships have provided a solid base for faculty development, graduate and undergraduate education in community health. Faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students and the community engage in a collaborative relationship to support community-oriented health projects. The three communities that participate in the partnerships are Native American reservations, a Chinese Information and Service Center in an urban area, and an immigrant community that is part of the Seattle metropolitan area. Within these communities various agencies and tribes work closely with faculty and students on a diverse array of grass-roots projects that support community health. The projects include community gardens, obesity and diet education, breast cancer prevention, physical fitness, school health, food banks, adolescent health and wellness education, and community disaster planning. After a year of work at the grass-roots, graduate students focus their second year at the policy level to reinforce community action. The policy-level activities have been with organizations such as public sector health departments, non-profit community action coalitions, political action groups, and cultural advocacy groups who work with government to support community health. Faculty members are assigned to a specific academic/practice partnership and engage in teaching, research, and service with the partnership as their focus. Engaging tenure-track faculty in the partnership model ensures not only service and teaching, but also applied research. Faculty has received applied research grants that enable capacity-building projects that benefit the community partner as well as the faculty involved in the grant. These activities have resulted in faculty and student publications and support the scholarly development of the tenure-track faculty member in addition to support for the community partner. Evaluations of the partnerships show that students positively regard the partnership as an educational experience although they do have some concerns about faculty to student communication during the experience. The academic/practice partnership model of community health nursing is well-established at the University of Washington.
Noel J. Chrisman, PhD, MPH
University of Washington