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Community Engagement


The students and faculty of the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences (NWCNHS) are Worlds Ahead in embracing and living the philosophy of community engagement. Through extraordinary partnerships, initiatives and research we have touched thousands of lives. Our goal is to improve healthcare and provide educational resources to communities locally, nationally and globally. This commitment to community engagement extends throughout FIU, which has earned the coveted Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

We encourage you to visit FIU's Office of Engagement and read on to learn more about our efforts to serve, support and improve our communities:


LATEST ENGAGEMENT NEWS

Speech-Language Pathology Students Give a Voice to Miami-Dade School Children
Children with Cerebral Palsy Take GIANT Steps with FIU Physical Therapy
First in the Nation: Foreign-Trained Physicians Become Nurses
Preparing New Nurse Educators to Grow the Nursing Pipeline
NWCNHS, College of Engineering and Computing, and Lehman Center for Transportation Team Up to Get Residents on the Move


Speech-Language Pathology Students Give a Voice to Miami-Dade School Children

The Communication Sciences & Disorders (CSD) department is partnering with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDPS) to provide speech and language pathology services to school children. MDPS has a critical need for speech-language pathologists to provide federally mandated services. Graduate students in the CSD's Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program, supervised by faculty, are meeting that need.

Since this partnership began in 2005, our graduate students have provided assessment and treatment services to more than 2,000 students in thirty schools. With this mutually beneficial partnership, MDPS receives specialized services from much needed bilingual student clinicians; the graduate students acquire valuable clinical experience with school populations; and the CSD department receives funding to help support its program. In addition, many of our SLP students who participate in the program are hired by MDPS schools when they graduate.


Children with Cerebral Palsy Take GIANT Steps with FIU Physical Therapy

Dr. Leonard Elbaum, associate professor of physical therapy, has collaborated with Creative Children's Therapy and Villa Lyan to offer

GIANT Steps, a low-cost, intensive therapy program for children with cerebral palsy. Both are parent-run, non-profit organizations that serve children with disabilities in Miami-Dade County. Most of the therapists and teachers working there are FIU Physical Therapy alumni, and many of our students pursuing therapy degrees are employed as part-time aides to teachers or therapists at those organizations.

The six-week GIANT Steps program consisted of customized body-weight supported treadmill training; interactive video gaming; electric stimulation-assisted resistive exercise via use of an FES-interfaced stationary cycle; and traditional, hands-on passive stretching, active-assistive, active and/or resistive exercise. At the conclusion of the program, participants demonstrated increases in lower extremity muscle strength ranging from 20 to 150 percent, as well as new gross motor abilities. For the first time, several children gained the ability to sit up or walk independently.


First in the Nation: Foreign-Trained Physicians Become Nurses

In 2001, the FIU Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences established the award-winning

Foreign-Educated Physician to Nursing program, the first program of its kind in the nation. The specialized, accelerated curriculum transforms foreign-educated doctors into nurses in the United States. CNHS worked closely with healthcare leaders in the community to create this unique solution to the critical nursing shortage in South Florida, while also promoting diversity in the nursing workforce.

The program has graduated more than 450 nursing professionals, half of whom have gone on to study at the graduate level to become advanced practice nurses. Ninety-one percent of the program's students are recent immigrants who were unemployed or under-employed. This groundbreaking program was recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2006 as a"21st Century Innovation," and was honored with a Florida Board of Nursing Commendation in 2009.


Preparing New Nurse Educators to Grow the Nursing Pipeline

In response to the critical shortage of nursing faculty, FIU Nursing has teamed with Miami-Dade College (MDC), Broward College (BC) and the Health Foundation of South Florida to create the

Grow Our Own Nurse Faculty program. The goal of the program is to put more nursing faculty in classrooms, who in turn will teach and prepare more nurses for our healthcare system. Grow Our Own is dedicated to financially support and prepare graduate nursing students to become nursing faculty at MDC and BC, with the students committing to teach at those institutions for at least two years after they graduate.

Since its inception in 2006, the program has produced 22 graduates. Currently, it includes 91 students. This program has enabled FIU to increase enrollment and graduation in the Nurse Practitioner track, and has fostered the creation and implementation of the "Culturally Competent Nurse Educator" program and post-MSN certificates. Additionally, through the federal Nurse Faculty Loan Program Grant, nursing students who go on to become faculty and teach for four years at a nursing school in the U.S. and its territories are eligible to have up to 85 percent of their student loans forgiven.


NWCNHS, College of Engineering and Computing, and Lehman Center for Transportation Team Up to Get Residents on the Move

Recognizing the need to enhance the mobility of residents of Miami-Dade County, including seniors and those with health-related problems, FIU formed an interdisciplinary, collaborative alliance between the CNHS Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy departments, FIU College of Engineering & Computing, and FIU's Lehman Center for Transportation Research to address that challenge.

Projects include an investigation of senior pedestrian safety at Miami-Dade's most dangerous intersections, and a study of seniors' use of public transportation and paratransit services. A planned simulated driving laboratory will focus on issues related to traffic safety, including evaluation of driver performance, within-vehicle and vehicle-infrastructure safety technologies, highway design and issues pertaining to driver training.