Engaged Scholars: Shaunta Stanford

News — December 11, 2023

Engaged Scholars: Shaunta Stanford

December 2023

Engaged Scholars is a series highlighting Ohio State faculty who have made an impact in our communities through their community-engaged research and teaching. (Shaunta Stanford, right, receiving the 2023 Engagement Scholarship Consortium Excellence in Staff Community Engagement Award.)

Shaunta Stanford
Assistant Professor Clinical Practice/Director Community Health Worker Training Program
College of Nursing

The College of Nursing Community Health Worker Training program (CHWTP) began in 2014 as a workforce development program and has grown to be one of the largest CHW program in Ohio. The 14-week hybrid learning model course trains individuals to become certified Community Health Workers (CHWs). The program focuses on assisting clients across the lifespan and addressing health conditions that disproportionately impact historically disadvantaged communities, to reduce health disparities and improve healthcare and quality of life. We believe that to obtain optimal health, we must address the social, economic and systemic issues that affect health. This begins in our homes, with our families, and in our communities. The CHWTP is designed for community members who desire to make a positive impact in their respective communities by providing and connecting others to health and community resources.

In addition to the 100 didactic and 130-hour practicum requirement, students participate in community engagement activities in Franklin County, where they directly interact with community members to provide health screenings, assess for social determinants of health and connect them to needed resources.

Why is it important to engage the community in your research and teaching?

Engaging the community is important because it brings the voices and experiences of the community to the forefront. Community members not only provide valuable insight into health and social needs, but they also provide knowledge about assets that aid in the resilience of those neighborhoods. This understanding informs my approach as an Advanced Practice Provider. In my role as a nurse educator, communicating community engaged principles to my students is critical to ensuring they are well-equipped to contribute effectively as the next generation of nurses.

What led you to the path of engaged scholarship? How did you get started?

My path into engaged scholarship began with by my experiences as a trauma nurse practitioner, particularly in caring for individuals affected by gun violence. In my role, I frequently encountered patients who were predominantly young, male and Black. Seeking to understand the underlying reasons for this, I began a journey to recognize my patients beyond the scope of their injuries. This exploration extended into understanding the historical and systemic conditions that played a significant role in contributing to the prevalence of injuries within this population. This intricate connection between my clinical experiences and the broader societal context ignited my passion for engaged scholarship, motivating me to delve deeper into advocacy aimed at addressing the root causes of health disparities and promoting community well-being.

How has your scholarship benefited from engaging with community partners?

My scholarship has been strengthened by my involvement in the community. I've gained valuable insights and a deeper understanding of the importance of collaborating with the community to address critical health and social issues from each relationship and community event.

What has been a highlight of your community engagement experience?

The highlight of my community engaged experience has been working with the CHW program participants . It's inspiring to see how our program serves as a catalyst for not only transforming the lives of those involved, but also impacting the broader community. Many of our students have faced trauma and other challenges, and our program stands as a positive stepping stone for them to pursue their goals and aspirations while helping others achieve optimal health. A testament to our program's success is evident in some graduates securing employment at their practicum sites, addressing a community need for innovative initiatives.

What advice would you give to faculty and students who are interested in engaging the community in their scholarship?

Engaging with the community is often a long-term investment that requires trust building, patience and active listening. It also involves a commitment to understanding the perspectives and needs of community partners. My advice to faculty and students interested in incorporating community engagement in their scholarship is to take the time to understand the unique insights and needs of community partners, valuing their expertise in the areas they serve. Recognizing and acknowledging the partners as experts fosters a collaborative environment where contributions from all sides are valued. Approaching community engagement with humility and a genuine desire to learn from and with the community can lead to meaningful and sustainable partnerships. Lastly, be adaptable; adjust to the changing needs of the community so that the scholarship addresses practical issues and improves their lives.

Sample engaged scholarship

CHW conference