UW-Eau Claire campus news featured an article (above) that describes some of our experiences.
In public and community health nursing practice, care extends beyond a single patient and includes the family and community as well.
Some theorists recommend approaching the community as "a disciplined stranger." Because a stranger will pay attention to aspects of the environment that others (more comfortable and familiar with the environment) may ignore or overlook.
In our case, we are all "strangers in a strange land" ~ and thus, we hope that our view of the community is fresh and full of meaningful insights.
A "community" may be variously defined as a place (such as the community of Eau Claire) or as a collection of people (such as the community of graduate family health practitioner students).
We have chosen to examine a little of both ~ the community of homeless persons and the area around inner city Washington, DC, where we served.
We will be using a standard nursing approach to community assessment that views the community as a client. Just as a client may be pregnant or not pregnant, a community is ALWAYS about 2% pregnant. And, although we are examining an aggregate rather than an individual, we are focusing upon the aggregate with the goal of deriving a diagnosis(es) for the community and to improve the health of the community.
We look at the physical features of the community first, and then we progress to some of the social aspects. The physical features may include signs, boundaries, age of the community, and so forth. The social features of the community may include persons, such as key informants, who can share information about patterns of behavior in the community.
A comprehensive, careful, and complete community assessment can drive policy, alerting others to the need for social change.
Although we were immersed in the culture for only 5 days, we will endeavor to enlighten you about our perceptions of the community with regard to inner city homelessness. Stay tuned for our community assessments.