Partners in Prevention Community Clinic

by Debra Eardley, DNP, RN, PHNA-BC

The Partners in Prevention (PIP) clinic offers a traditional public health nursing model of care. The focus is prevention, and nurturing health and wellbeing in a community that was greatly impacted by both the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest; trauma and racism. The PIP was designed using a modified Partnership Engagement Model using a highly collaborative approach in working with community partners, stakeholders and community members. The clinic services were provided by a public health nurse educator and students. The outcomes have been remarkable.

In 2020, during the pandemic, I received a grant from the Institute of Scholarship and Community Engagement, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN. Soon after, I corralled a team of community partners and stakeholders from the Philips West community, Minneapolis, MN., with whom I had a long-term working relationship, to develop the PIP clinic. The PIP clinic was designed for two reasons: (1) to provide nursing students in undergraduate and graduate public health nursing courses robust and real-world community clinicals, and (2) to provide free prevention services for health promotion and disease prevention using a conversational approach in a community facing many challenges.  It took several routine virtual meetings to develop the PIP clinic staying true to a holistic, collaborative, public health nursing model of care, and we did just that!

The PIP clinic is located in a richly diverse community that is 75% African American, Native American and African (, 2021). According the, in the Philips West community, the level of poverty in 2021 was roughly 55% for a family of four (2023). The concern is that poverty in this community has not improved but gotten worse over the decades, since 1980 (Economic Innovation Group, 2018). With this, a goal of the clinic was to address health inequities and to bring hope to community members through free prevention services and conversations about health and wellness.

In fall 2022, we launched the PIP clinic. At that time there were three community partners involved. In fall 2023, we grew to working with eight community partners who provided a variety of services in near or real time. For example, community partners assisted community members with access to health insurance, dental appointments, other types of healthcare appointments, vaccinations, STI testing and referral, food resources, housing, mental health services and more. The clinic is offered each semester for roughly 9-10 weeks long. The clinic is housed in a well-known community center in Minneapolis, MN, called the Center for Changing Lives.

The clinic space includes four (open) nursing stations for free health screenings, hypertension, pre-diabetes, oral health and stress reduction, and a clinical hand massage. During this time, a community partner recognized that community members needed to talk about what they had experienced during and after the pandemic, alongside widespread civil unrest. For this, students applied engaged listening and motivational interviewing. Based on our holistic approach, using the social determinants of health, if a need was identified individuals were given a warm hand-off to an on-site community partner who could provide them with resources or services in real or near time, as described earlier. We offered a $10 gift card and other material incentives for clinic visitors.

As part of the PHN process, students collected de-identified data, using an intake form that community partners helped to develop. The intake form includes metrics for the health screenings and a post-clinic visit satisfaction survey that the lead clinical instructor completed with community members. At the end of the academic school year, faculty and community partners evaluated the completed intake forms for quantitative and qualitative data. The outcomes were very compelling.

Community members reported feeling heard, cared for and that their needs were met. When asked how they felt about the “open nursing stations,” community members reported they felt more comfortable in that setting because it was “community building.” Students reported the PIP clinical was beneficial for learning how to build trusting and caring relationships with diverse populations, and how to apply PHN foundations of practice in a real-world setting. In academic year 2022, during both fall and spring semesters, we had 163+ clinic visitors from 53 different neighborhoods based on zip code. Based on the outcomes, modifications were made to the clinic processes. The number of clinic visitors for this fall semester have almost reached that number at 157. After spring semester, we will review the intake forms for academic year 2024 evaluation results.  

Within the past year, the PIP clinic has gained the interest of Minnesota stakeholders from the private sector and local and state health department who became champions and key supporters of the clinic. What an honor it was! The PIP clinic is featured in the Minnesota State Health Plan 2035, that includes a YouTube video of the clinic: In addition, and just as humbling, we received two awards, the Campus Compact 2023 Civic Engagement Leadership Award, and Minnesota SOPHE Outstanding Contributions to Public Health Education Award.

In conclusion, the Partners in Prevention clinic was designed using a modified partnership engagement model. The clinic offers a traditional public health nursing model of care focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. The clinic offers multiple benefits for nursing students, community partners, and community members. For students, the clinic provides experiential learning opportunities to develop effective communication skills for building trusting and caring relationships in working with others different than self. Students also develop public health nursing skills for health promotion and disease prevention that, in turn, provide community members with free health screenings, coaching, referral to resources/services set up in near or real time, coaching, and clinical hand massage. It is recommended that the clinic be replicated in other communities with the goal of improving the health and well-being among at risk populations, and to reduce health inequities.

Debra Eardley, DNP, RN, PHNA-BC, is Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing at Metropolitan State University in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences. She is Founder and Chair of Partnership for Informatics in Nursing Education (PINE) and Founder of Partners in Prevention, Center for Changing Lives. Debra is also a member of the Association of Community Health Nursing Educators (ACHNE).

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