University of Nebraska Medical Center

Rural Futures Institute Awarded RHEN a Teaching and Engagement Grant

Education Highlight – In 2015, the Rural Futures Institute awarded RHEN a Teaching and Engagement grant to develop Rural Interprofessional UNMC Student Rotations. This collaborative initiative will bring together students from the UNMC College of Dentistry, College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, College of Public Health, and the College of Allied Health Professions, to engage in interprofessional team projects in partnership with the East Central District Public Health Department in Columbus, Nebraska. During the three-week rotation students will engage in team-based service-learning (SL) based activities, focusing on tobacco policy, a priority area that aligns with the East Central District Health Department Community Health Improvement Plan.

RHEN has been awarded Rural Futures Institute (RFI) Teaching and Engagement grants three years in a row.

In collaboration with Peru State College (PSC) and the Office of Public Health Practice, RHEN developed and piloted an on-line undergraduate public health course with a service learning component.  The title of this course is “Principles of Community Engagement in Public Health: Service Learning, Community-based Participatory Research, Leadership, and Civic Engagement”. Eighteen Peru State College students enrolled in the course, and all students completing the course evaluation agreed, or strongly agreed, that the course was intellectually challenging. Below, please find student views on the course:

“This is an extraordinary course. Truly, by far, the most thought-provoking, engaged, challenging online course I’ve taken. I say this because learning from top professionals and professors in Public Health has given the students in this course many collective view points to engage upon. My favorite part of the course, that is not offered in most online courses, was the service learning project. I was able to gain direct skills and knowledge through a public health sector. This hands-on application was further challenged by applying learned skills of civic engagement, personal growth, and academic engagement in reflection papers. Through this I was able to challenge and grow my critical thinking skills on a level that hadn’t been utilized yet in my Peru State College online career.”

 “I’m obviously a big fan of this course, even though the content was demanding I was still excited to learn the course content every week. This course is for every discipline. I hope that students for years to come will be able to enjoy this course as much as I have. Thank you for offering this innovative course at Peru State College.“

Students felt the service learning and reflection paper components of the course were valuable experiences through which they were able to further develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills. Dr. Kyle Ryan, Associate Professor of Exercise Science at Peru State College taught the course in the spring semester of 2015. A Rural Futures Institute (RFI), Teaching and Engagement Grant supported the development of the course.

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