Released on April 2, 2018

By UCF College of Nursing | April 2, 2018

students who work at Community nursing coalitions in central Florida
All UCF nursing students work at one of 17 Community Nursing Coalitions in Central Florida during their degree

A grant recently awarded from the West Orange Healthcare District will enhance the real-world education for UCF nursing students while aiding in the care of the growing number of uninsured patients at Shepherd’s Hope.

A $62,000 grant will fund a new UCF Community Nursing Coalition, or community-focused service learning program for students. The coalition will be specifically dedicated to the West Orange community, with undergraduate and graduate students at the Shepherd’s Hope clinic in Ocoee and the new center in Winter Garden scheduled to open in December 2018. Shepherd’s Hope, which provides high quality health care for medically underserved and uninsured, has cared for a growing number of patients from West Orange County. In 2017, the organization provided care to 2,647 adults and children from the region, up from 2,178 in 2016.

UCF will have a dedicated faculty member to coordinate the program in West Orange. “This grant will expand educational opportunities for our students, who will gain experience, knowledge and skills by interacting with the Shepherd’s Hope clinical provider team and faculty,” said Nursing Associate Instructor Erica Hoyt, MSN, RN, CNE, who will lead these efforts.

Undergraduate students will apply classroom knowledge to provide health screenings, health evaluations and patient education to empower community members to make healthy choices, manage risk factors and improve outcomes. Graduate students will work with clinical leaders to analyze data and work to improve individual and population health, such as decreasing adult tobacco use, decreasing the incidence of low birth weight babies and decreasing substance abuse.

Students will also participate in Healthy West Orange, a grass roots movement to inspire west Orange County to become the healthiest community in the nation.

“This grant is a mutually beneficial opportunity for the community and nursing education,” said Mary Lou Sole, dean of the UCF College of Nursing. “We are excited to deepen our relationship with Shepherd’s Hope and establish a partnership with the West Orange Healthcare District, as both of these organizations share in our commitment to improving the health and well being of the community through education and high quality, compassionate care.”

The West Orange Healthcare District grant is the latest development in the partnership between the UCF College of Nursing and Shepherd’s Hope. As the college and community need has grown, so has the partnership. Initially an opportunity for undergraduate students, now both undergraduate and graduate students volunteer at the five health centers throughout Central Florida.

“Since 2014, the impact of the collaborative relationship between Shepherd’s Hope and the UCF College of Nursing has been significant for our organization and the uninsured patients that we serve,” said Marni Stahlman, president and CEO of Shepherd’s Hope, Inc. “It has allowed for the creation of several innovative initiatives that have improved clinical operations and our care standards, and also helped us establish a unique day clinic in Longwood run solely by UCF College of Nursing volunteers and faculty.”

For more than a decade, the UCF College of Nursing has made a difference in the lives of residents through its community-based curriculum. Through community partners, like Shepherd’s Hope, students have provided more than 30,000 hours of service to some of the region’s most economically disadvantaged residents. This new grant will expand the program to 17 Community Nursing Coalitions serving five counties in Central Florida.

For more information about the UCF College of Nursing, visit

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