205927 Service learning to explore the social determinants of health

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:50 PM

Sonda Oppewal, PhD, RN , School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Service learning is widely used in various disciplines as an effective pedagogy that helps students apply new knowledge by responding to community needs. Health professional students often develop a fuller appreciation of social justice and the social determinants after an immersive experience with active community engagement. This presentation will describe an interdisciplinary service learning trip with 20 nursing, public health, social work, and physical therapy students and faculty that took place March 9-13, 2009. Our group was invited to work with members of a local health department and Healthy Carolinians committee to conduct a door-to-door survey of residents who live in the poorest parts of an urban county. During the second half of the week we helped rural residents and Conservation Fund staff members refurbish an historic school building for use as an an environmental and community center. The analysis plan for this project will include identification and comparison of themes related to social determinants, social justice, advocacy, and health policy from the week's reflective sessions and student reflective papers. We will compare the themes from this trip in our home state of North Carolina with themes identified from service learning trips to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi the past three spring breaks. We anticipate that students will find the 2009 spring break service learning trip to be very valuable for informing their future practice in health care even though the service learning took place not far from where they live. Lessons learned and recommendations will be given to help others implement similar trips that will fuel a passion for advocacy and social justice.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe a service learning trip that helps students explore the social determinants of health. 2. Discuss how academic community partnerships can foster student interest in social justice.

Keywords: Community Health, Service

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have graduate degrees in nursing, experience in public health nursing, and I helped lead this service learning project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.