“We found the need was to go directly into the community. It wasn't enough to only do work in the hospital, we had to do more to help out within the field."
Dr. Erin Athey is a faculty member at the George Washington School of Nursing who works with students to create real-world experiences out in the community. Throughout her career, she has strived to provide equitable resources and quality care to individuals and families that need it the most. In doing so, she has brought her experience as a clinician and educator to Southeast DC where she has worked for the last decade to create a broader understanding of the social determinants of health.
In 2016 Dr. Athey received the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Change grant. With this award, she was able to strengthen her initiative of providing healthcare in ‘third spaces’ (places outside of home and workplace) and help shape her vision to create a program that bridged the gap. This initiative, co-created with her physician colleague became MHI-STREET, Mental Health Improvement through Studying, Teaching, Rebranding, Embedded Education, and Technology. The program sought to embed mental health education within the adult male population in Southeast DC’s barbershops. Their approach was specifically tailored towards a communal approach to learning in which community members and participants were trained through storytelling to convey their unique experiences.
Dr. Athey has used this fieldwork as a model for the courses she teaches at George Washington University. As an educator within the school of nursing, and particularly with the community health course offered in GW’s accelerated nursing program, she has made a point to encourage her students to be more involved in community-engaged research.
“To me, this type of teaching is almost always better in the field. So the best thing that I have found that I can do for students is to put them directly in these community settings so that they can observe and learn directly from them (community members).”
When asked about the importance of this approach, Dr. Athey states how typically health care courses focus on the clinical approach, which can limit students' perspectives in the field. By researching the community her students can see firsthand how individuals are being affected and how their work can help
Dr. Athey’s courses and experiences champion the importance of engaging directly with the community and innovating strategies that meet the most immediate needs. To learn more about Nashman Affiliated faculty click here.