Partnership prepares student nurses to deliver community healthcare

MMU Nursing Penfield StoryBeginning this fall, a collaboration between the Mount Mary University School of Nursing and Penfield Children's Center will train the next generation of nurses while addressing a demand for community healthcare in Milwaukee.

This service is considered a frontline connection between healthcare providers and patients, delivering care through home and site visits. Community-based care plays an invaluable role in providing access to quality care and preventive wellness measures, proving especially important for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, disabled or those living in remote areas.

Through supervised placements overseen by Penfield Children's Center, MMU student nurses will connect with the city's underserved populations. Short term rotations will allow students to gain a diverse range of experiences, such as teaching workshops or conducting in-home wellness checks. The nurses-in-training will learn how to work with families while delivering beneficial, in-demand services. This partnership will provide valuable experiences to students while addressing the critical nursing shortage that continues to loom in the healthcare industry.

"Community nursing is the new gold standard for healthcare," says Gean Swiatko-Klee, assistant professor and program chair of the MMU School of Nursing. "There is a huge need within our city. If we can focus on prevention, we can limit the damage caused by illness."

Swiatko-Klee reflected on her own initial experience as a student delivering perinatal care to underserved and at-risk patients.

"Sharing basic information with people that they may not have known- even little things like handwashing or taking vitamins-made such a positive impact," she said. "The experience was both empowering for me and for the patients."

"Sometimes therapeutic touch, or even just a conversation with someone can make all the difference," she added.

Mount Mary's Nursing program currently works with the Milwaukee Catholic Home and Trinity Woods intergenerational living facility to deliver care to elderly residents. The Penfield Children's Center connection will add a pediatric care component, rounding out the nurses' essential skillset across the lifespan.

Both Penfield Children's Center and the Mount Mary University Nursing program share a mission of promoting equitable access to high quality healthcare. Swiatko-Klee is enthusiastic about the developing relationship between the two organizations.

"We're creating an invaluable experience to train the next generation of caregivers," she says. "It's a beautiful collaboration."