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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 166

Community-Academic Partnerships: A "Community-First" Model to Teach Public Health

1 University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont, USA
2 United Way of Chittenden County Volunteer Center, South Burlington, Vermont, USA

Correspondence Address:
J K Carney
General Internal Medicine, 371 Pearl Street, Burlington, Vermont 05401
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 19034837

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Context: Physicians face complex public health issues in clinical practice today. We describe an innovative "community-first" model that teaches public health to medical students. Methods: The United Way of Chittenden County Volunteer Center (UWCCVC) in the State of Vermont, U.S.A., was chosen as the focal point for projects because of its documented history, success, and credibility. A simple form, sent to local community agencies, facilitated participation and identified Healthy People 2010 focus areas as the public health framework. Community agencies identified the health needs of populations that were served through this process. Projects were subsequently jointly developed and following student completion, assessed jointly by university faculty and community agency mentors. Results: A total of 41 projects have been completed, spanning 11 different areas of Healthy People 2010. Many different local community agencies have participated. An annual poster session is held at project completion. Assessment includes both faculty mentor and community agency assessment of student groups' progress and project quality. Community agencies are surveyed following project completion. Nearly all community agencies agreed that projects benefited the populations served and anticipated continuing the partnership. Conclusions: Putting community public health needs first, in developing projects, was critical to success. This "community-first" model provides opportunities to teach public health and benefit health in local communities.

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