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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 116-125

The pursuit of healthier communities through a community health medical education program

Center of Studies in Community Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of La Sabana, Cundinamarca, Colombia

Correspondence Address:
Francisco Lamus-Lemus
Facultad de Medicina, Campus Universitario, Km. 7, Vía a Chía, Universidad de La Sabana, Cundinamarca
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_283_14

Background: Distinct periods in the community health undergraduate medical program at the University of La Sabana (Colombia) were identified in its evolution from 1999 to 2013. We describe each period and explain the succesion of changes toward improvement. Methods: An ordered review of the community health program was constructed based on the retrospective recollection, classification, and analysis of information from document archives and interviews with participants. The review of the experience reconstructs periods of the program, organizing the evolution of its learned lessons and identified changes across the development of community health projects (CHPs) and the phases followed in their implementation. Results: Two principal stages were identified, the first when students' CHPs involved only schools, and the second when students worked in a broader array of community settings. Identified phases of the community health cycle leading to identifying changes across the program timeline were focus of the community–campus partnership; development of relationships among participants; health and health determinants' assessment; defining project goals and objectives; devising a project activity plan; implementing and gathering results; disseminating project achievements; and building sustainability of program activities. Periods were bounded by important new characteristics introduced in the pursuit of healthier communities. Discussion: Understanding the evolution of the program revealed the key concepts and practices in setting community health apprenticeship scenarios for the various participants. Overall, trust and commitment from stakeholders requires competent facilitators able to build meaningful and sustainable collaborations that can translate the purpose of community health practice into an effective teaching–learning experience. Institutional capacity building and collaborative practice contribute to improvements in the community health program and its ability to be flexible to adapt to different contexts. Periods reflecting improvement in this school's programs over time can help others identify key elements that need to be integrated into a community health medical education program.

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