Approaching the epidemiology module in CNHP’s population health course, community health nurse and Undergraduate Nursing assistant clinical professorKim McClellan, EdD , had an opportunity to teach students in a real-life scenario. “Our students watched COVID-19 move from China to Europe and then across the ocean to us,” McClellan noted. As they tracked it, nursing students learned theory and, in real-time, what the disaster mitigation hat of a community health nurse feels like. As cases in Philadelphia started surfacing, she and her students worked out a theoretical plan for the University, and as Drexel’s mitigation effort started, health professionals like McClellan, who had done similar work during the HIV epidemic, were called into action.
Community nursing literally is in her DNA. A fourth-generation nurse, McClellan watched her grandmother work in not just traditional settings, but in schools, neighborhoods and wherever people needed an advocate. “To me, that’s nursing,” she said. By becoming a professor, her hope is to demonstrate that nurses make huge contributions working in the streets, around conference tables and in places like the Senate, not only in hospitals. McClellan underscored the privilege she has being in the most trusted profession and wants students to recognize their power in fighting for people in the community. “When a community trusts us enough to share their needs and concerns, it is our responsibility and privilege to bring their voices to the world, create change and enact justice.”
While she may love community-based practice, McClellan tells everyone, from her undergraduate to doctoral students, to find the work that is most meaningful to them. Emulating someone else’s passion isn’t sustainable. “Something magical happens when it's your passion, when it's something that you deeply care about,” she smiled. “It is what will support you through the darkest moments.” For the time being, as more people, especially during this pandemic, decide nursing is their calling, McClellan will continue to expose students to a variety of roles in nursing.