Academic journal article Nursing and Health Care Perspectives

Partnership for Health Care: An Academic Nursing Center in a Rural Community College

Academic journal article Nursing and Health Care Perspectives

Partnership for Health Care: An Academic Nursing Center in a Rural Community College

Article excerpt

An Academic Nursing Center in a Rural Community College

Academic nursing centers, owned and administered by schools of nursing, provide ambulatory care in settings in which nurses are both health care providers and clinic managers. Such centers are growing in number within the United States (1,2). In contrast to academic health centers that are based on a medical model, they "give the client direct access to professional nursing services ... using nursing models of health" (3).

Academic nursing centers provide accessible and affordable health care services to a variety of clients, including women and children, the elderly, the homeless, minorities, and low-income and underserved persons. They are based in diverse settings-schools of nursing, senior or neighborhood centers, public housing projects, storefronts, churches, schools, and mobile vans-and in some instances, they serve as home care providers (4). They have in common their ownership by schools of nursing.

The Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU), in collaboration with both the health care community and the administration of the Moberly Area Community College (MACC), provides holistic health care services to primarily underserved college students through a federally funded nursing center, known as the MU Sinclair School of Nursing Center. It is the first academic nursing center in Missouri, and it is unique in its setting. Following is an account of the decision making behind the design of the center and a description of the pilot program conducted to evaluate the plan.


After the MACC and MU School of Nursing faculty dismissed the proposal and conducted workshops with colleagues in the community, it was determined that establishment of an academic nursing center would have two main benefits. First, it would use resources of the School of Nursing to advance nursing practice and education and help meet health care needs in rural Missouri. Second, it would provide primary health care services categorized as health promotion, disease prevention, case finding, and primary care.

Programs and services offered within this framework would include ongoing health assessments, screenings, and monitoring; primary care services for the care of episodic illnesses; monitoring of chronic illnesses; and mental health programs for individuals and groups. These activities and services would be planned and implemented to meet the objective of improving access to primary health care services for young adults from rural, medically underserved areas. Further, it would serve as a model for a partnership between two public agencies.


The state of Missouri, located in the geographic center of the United States, has topographic, demographic, and cultural characteristics of the other regions of the country. This diversity fosters regional self-interest and makes it difficult to create a sense of unity within the state. Unity is required for building and financing the infrastructure necessary to support the health and welfare of citizens.

A third of Missouri's five million citizens live in rural areas. The state has two major cities (St. Louis and Kansas City). Columbia, one of three small cities, is in the center of the state. Only two major interstate highways bisect the state east to west, and none bisect the state north to south.

There is a continued growth of at-risk populations in Missouri, including the elderly, pregnant women, children, low-income families, and minorities. A report on local health services noted that access to care is the major policy issue, resulting from barriers such as financing, geographic availability of providers and services, transportation, and timely availability of services (5).

The University of Missouri-Columbia, established in 1838, was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. …

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