ImpactWinter/Spring 2019

Tackling a Nationwide Shortage

Pioneering Community-based Nursing

Collaborating with healthcare providers across the region, School of Nursing faculty are leading strategies to identify innovative healthcare practices to address community needs, while at the same time enriching educational opportunities for healthcare practitioners and nursing students.


A partnership between UIndy and one of central Indiana’s leading healthcare providers, Community Health Network (CHN), is transforming the ways students are educated and trained in health-related fields while addressing nursing shortages and meeting new healthcare demands. This integrated approach benefits the student, the patient and community wellness.

Dr. Norma Hall
Dr. Norma Hall

“We’re training students to treat patients in non-traditional settings, like outpatient clinics,” said Dr. Norma Hall, School of Nursing dean. “We’re serving the community in a way it needs today by bringing care to patients where they are, which is outside the hospital. Student learning is happening where the care needs to take place. We’re meeting patients where they need to be seen.”

Evolution of acute care

In 2018, CHN received a $2.5-million federal grant to expand its educational partnership with UIndy’s School of Nursing by addressing the shift from acute care to outpatient settings.

“What used to be done in the hospital acute care setting is now done outpatient. The workforce wasn’t prepared for that,” said Hall. “You still have the same need for nurses in the hospital that you’ve always had, but now there’s the extra need in community spaces.”

Through the grant, the School of Nursing will offer in 2019 an elective perioperative nursing course for undergraduate students and the first-of-its-kind minor in primary care nursing, preparing students to care for patients in a variety of settings.

“There’s excitement on both sides for this,” added Karen Elsea, undergraduate program director and assistant professor in the School of Nursing. “The idea is to give students fundamental understanding that they wouldn’t normally get in the program. It’s a great pipeline opportunity. We couldn’t do these things without partnerships.”

The Nursing Academy

The Nursing Academy, a partnership between UIndy and CHN, was launched in 2016 to prepare graduates to treat patients effectively from day one, no matter the setting. The Academy builds workplace experience into the curriculum by requiring students to work a minimum of 12 hours every two weeks as paid interns at CHN.

“Academia and practice go hand in hand; you must have both,” explains Dr. Tia Bell, online program director and assistant professor in the School of Nursing.

A guaranteed job with CHN upon graduation is the most attractive quality about the Nursing Academy for many students. Thanks to this talent pipeline, two cohorts have graduated so far, and all 19 members secured full-time jobs at CHN.

Joy’s house gives students the opportunity to serve
Joy’s house gives students the opportunity to serve

“We hire as many UIndy nursing graduates as we can,” said Dr. Jean Putnam ’17 (doctor of nursing practice), chief nursing officer at CHN. “We know they’re going to be high-quality employees.”

Making an impact through service

Despite its ambitious yet humble beginnings in 1959, the “Education for Service” motto has been deeply embedded in the nursing curriculum. Students continue to find community engagement opportunities in their coursework and through a variety of volunteer and mission opportunities all over the world each year.

Over the last decade, School of Nursing faculty have led annual service trips to Haiti and Ecuador, where nursing students teach life-saving skills and gain practical experience. For nursing student Nikolaus Clark ’19 (nursing, minor in gerontology and psychology), this experience was truly inspiring.

“I learned a lot about the human qualities that make you a better nurse on the medical mission trip to Ecuador. We set up some mobile clinics to help the local population and delivered medical supplies to people in need. It was eye-opening,” Clark said.

Since 1996, more than 250 nursing students have been commissioned for service through a parish nurse training program focused on advancing the wellness of their congregations through health promotion. The program, founded by Cheryl Larson ’66, ’71, will be reintroduced by Associate Professor Dr. Kathy Hetzler in 2019.

“It’s good for churches and it’s good for students. It opens students’ eyes to different faith traditions and teaches them to use holistic care within the church to help the members. Not
only are we making an impact on the community medically, but we’re making an impact spiritually,” said Hetzler, who brings her faith’s values of empathy and compassion to the medical practice of nursing.

Connecting with the community


The School of Nursing also collaborates with Eli Lilly and Company, Franciscan Health, Joy’s House and a number of local congregations, schools and community centers. At Lilly, undergraduate and graduate nursing students are paired with preceptors to learn about project management, clinical research and other roles at the global company. The School of Nursing has hosted tailored cohort training for Franciscan staff for decades. Meanwhile, the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community, a program that works to improve the quality of life for all people as they age, partners with Joy’s House, a not-for-profit adult day service that provides physical, mental and financial relief for families caring for a loved one.

Did you know?

The U.S. is experiencing a shortage of Registered Nurses (RNs) that is expected to intensify as Baby Boomers age and the need for healthcare grows.

Source: American Association of Colleges of Nursing

For more info on the Center for Aging & Community,

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