Document Type

Position Paper

Publication Date

8-22-2016

Schools

Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, St. Catherine University, School of Social Work, St. Catherine University - University of St. Thomas

Department

Nursing, Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Social Work

Abstract

Community/university partnerships play a critical role in higher education. Community-based research, service learning, guest lectures, internships, and a host of other activities illustrate the shared opportunities for students, educators, practitioners, employers, and consumers, as communities and institutions collaborate to educate the future workforce and develop an informed and engaged citizenry.

Across the spectrum of health and professional disciplines, real world learning through community-based clinical/field education1 is essential to prepare practice-ready graduates. At St. Catherine University, for example, students complete over 7,000 clinical/field placements annually across multiple degrees and disciplines (see Appendix B). Without community/ university partnerships, our universities would not be able to provide high quality learning experiences and educate graduates who are both qualified and competitive in the workforce.

Yet the long-standing model of clinical/field education is faced with pressures and competing demands. While universities strive to increase enrollment and meet rising competition and changing accreditation standards, providers face industry and regulatory reform, economic downturns, reduced funding and reimbursement, productivity demands, a retiring workforce, and a host of other pressures.

This paper is intended to strengthen community/university partnerships by articulating the value that can come from clinical/field education. The authors of this paper serve as clinical/field educators for the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health at St. Catherine University and the School of Social Work at St. Catherine University - University of St. Thomas. We draw from our own experience, conversations with clinical and fieldwork partners, faculty and students, and existing literature to outline this complex issue. The goal of this paper is to provide information, a conceptual framework, and language that can inform stakeholders and foster dialogue as we work collaboratively to address the opportunities and challenges of workforce development.