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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 152-162

An Application of Multidisciplinary Education to a Campus-Community Partnership to Reduce Motor Vehicle Accidents

1 Community Partnership Program, East Tennessee State University, Tennessee, USA
2 Health Services Management Program, State University of New York Institute of Technology, New York, USA
3 Department of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, Tennessee, USA

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Objective: A collaborative campus-community partnership program provided the framework for an intervention to reduce motor vehicle accident fatalities along a rural Appalachian highway. Students from public health, nursing and medicine worked with community members to identify the problem and plan the strategy to address it. Methods: An inquiry-based learning model proved to be an appropriate approach to engage student teams with community leaders in identifying and resolving health needs. Inquiry-based strategies place students in guided learning situations where their investigations lead to working solutions. The inquiry-based model matched the curricular objectives of the Community Partnership Program (CPP) more closely than the classroom oriented problem-based learning approach. Implementation: In the spring of 1994, students, along with citizens and officials of a rural Appalachian county, initiated a community-based prevention project focused on reducing deaths from motor vehicle accidents employing the principles of an inquirybased learning model. Discussion: This project effectively demonstrates the role that students can play in mobilizing diverse elements of the community to address identified health and safety concerns. It provides an illustration that a longitudinal, community-based, servicelearning approach to health professions education is beneficial to both student learners and communities. Conclusions: Through the use of inquiry-based learning methods, students gained real life experience in applied principles of health statistics, epidemiology, community organization, health risk communication, health education planning and program implementation. Outcomes of the project included a measurable reduction in automobile-related fatalities and the initiation by the state department of transportation of a series of investigations expected to pave the way for physical improvements to the roadway.

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