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Advances in Nursing Science:
Teaching and Learning

Advancing Health Policy in Nursing Education through Service Learning

Cohen, Sally Solomon RN, PhD, FAAN; Milone-Nuzzo, Paula RN, PhD, FAAN

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Abstract

Knowledge of health policy is an increasingly important aspect of nursing practice and education, especially as nurses strive to improve the rapidly changing health care delivery system. At the same time, many educators, researchers, foundations, and government officials are touting the benefits of service learning. In particular, service learning offers ways to enhance partnerships between academia and community agencies and to extend learning beyond the traditional classroom. We present a model for educating nurses as advanced practice nurses in health policy that links service learning with a framework for the political development of nurses. Under the rubric of service learning, the curriculum is based on the overlap among health policy, the role of the nurse as consultant, and community-based care. After discussing the importance of health policy for graduate nursing education and reviewing the essentials of service learning, we describe a three-semester graduate sequence in health policy service learning. The focus is on the clinical and classroom components of both individual and group practica and their relationship to stages of nursing's political development. The article concludes with evaluation considerations and the implications of our work for nursing theory, research, practice, and education.

© 2001 Aspen Publishers, Inc.

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