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International service-learning: Public health students contribute to global health through classroom exercises and MPH special projects

A. Seiji Hayashi, MD, MPH, Department of Prevention and Community Health, George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, 3750 Reservoir Rd, NW, Kober-Cogan 218, Washington, DC 20007, 202-687-5322, ash23@georgetown.edu, Edward Horgan, BS, PT, The George Washington University, 3415 1/2 Brown Street, NW, Washington, DC 20010, and Jessica Eichelberger, George Washington University, 3415 1/2 Brown St, NW, Washington, DC 20010.

Many public health students are eager to work and contribute to community-based programs internationally; however, few find classroom exercises useful in preparation for actual work, and thus, make meaningful contribution difficult. Major barriers include the lack of time, travel expense, and communication difficulties. Furthermore, classroom exercises may include reviewing and analyzing actual programs but will seldom lead to activities that make direct contributions. The Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) program at the George Washington University School of Public Health has been teaching COPC to public health students since 1995. Based on combining clinical care with public health principles, students learn the mechanics of COPC through lectures, workgroup exercises, and simulated projects as well as actual community-based work as part of their MPH Special Projects. In collaboration with Doctors for Global Health (DGH), Medicos por el Derecho a la Salud, and Campesinos para el Desarollo Humano, a pilot program was developed to create a true service-learning program using the Introduction to Community Health course and the MPH Special Projects. Students in the course analyzed on-going projects in rural El Salvador and produced recommendations for further activities. After the course, students then have the opportunity to work directly with select communities abroad. This year, students who have completed the class have begun their Special Projects working in rural El Salvador and in Chiapas, Mexico.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: International Public Health, Community-Based Partnership

Related Web page: www.dghonline.org

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Doctors for Global Health, Medicos por el Derecho a la Salud, Campesinos para Desarrollo Humano, Medecins du Monde- France
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

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The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA