Access to primary health care remains an important issue for many low-income and uninsured families living in Camden. A new initiative by a Rutgers University–Camden nursing professor seeks to bring the needs of those families to light and to provide them with health education and outreach programs.Kathleen Jackson, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden, has been awarded the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Take Care Health Promotion Grant, which will fund focus groups comprised of residents and stakeholders of Camden neighborhoods.
“The aim is to learn the residents’ perceptions and beliefs about health, for themselves, their families, and their community, and learn what their healthcare experiences have been,” Jackson says. “We want to identify any issues or barriers those residents have faced and come up with a plan to help them overcome those barriers and help the resident access the resources they need so they can improve their health.”
Jackson says common problems many low-income families face include transportation to primary care facilities, access to grocery stores for healthy food options, and opportunities for exercise. She will begin speaking with focus group participants this spring and is seeking additional funding for a larger project that would find solutions to the health access problems identified in the focus groups.
“Is there a way to provide transportation for people? Can we foster more community gardens for the planting of fresh vegetables? Can we bring more services, like immunizations, to residents in their communities? That’s what we want to find out,” Jackson says. “By working in partnership with the communities, we want to find a way to better meet needs and better provide health resources.”
Jackson continues, “Community engagement is a focus of the Rutgers–Camden School of Nursing and a project like this fits in with that goal. Listening to Camden residents and learning how to help them to build capacity within and for their communities is an important part of improving overall health.”
A Medford Lakes resident, Jackson is an adult and family nurse practitioner who has dedicated her career to primary care, community engagement, and chronic care management. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the New Jersey State Nurses Association.
Jackson received the AANP’s 2015 Nurse Practitioner State Award for Excellence, given annually to a nurse practitioner in each state who demonstrates excellence in their area of practice.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Thomas Jefferson University School of Nursing; her master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Rutgers University; and her doctoral degree from the legacy University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Nursing at Stratford.