Unique New Program Enriches Lives and Health in the Local Community

Unique New Program Enriches Lives and Health in the Local Community


At the Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON), we are beginning the second year of our strategic plan and are focused on our mission: Together transforming the future of nursing, to advance health with individuals, families and communities. One of our strategic initiatives highlights community health improvement. To meet this goal, we have launched the DUSON Community Health Improvement Partnership Program (D-CHIPP).

The D-CHIPP program was created to formalize our partnerships throughout the Durham community and improve the health of underserved populations. While DUSON is not the first nursing school to implement a community health improvement program, D-CHIPP has a special focus: to work directly with community organizations, and through their strategic plans determine how to best help them reach their goals and assist with community-based health initiatives. 

During the conceptualization of D-CHIPP, faculty, staff and senior leaders at DUSON collaborated to identify priority populations in Durham where community health improvement activities would leverage existing partnerships and build upon faculty and staff expertise. We chose to initially focus on the immigrant community and the homeless, with plans to expand to other marginalized populations in Durham as D-CHIPP grows.

D-CHIPP is partnering with local non-profit organizations including Families Moving Forward and the Durham Housing Authority to provide opportunities for faculty, staff and students to engage in community health improvement activities. Our goal is to improve the health within these communities by providing screening and health education activities.  In addition, DUSON faculty and non-profit leaders will work collaboratively to write grants that facilitate the partnership’s goals. The writing teams will participate in half-day working sessions using “Design Thinking”—a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions through group activities that encourage innovative and “out-of-the-box” thinking —process and strategies.

As D-CHIIPP grows, it will offer small grants for faculty and staff to work with local community agencies as well as host seminars on community engagement in collaboration through the Population Health Research Area of Excellence within the School’s Center for Nursing Research. “The nursing school is seen as a pillar in this community,” said Donna Biederman, DrPH, MN, RN, director of D-CHIPP “so it’s important that DUSON has a program that directly impacts the health of the community where we can leverage our resources to both the benefit of the community.”

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