208864 Community-Based Internships to Address Environmental Issues

Monday, November 9, 2009

Anika Foster, MPH , Institute of Public Health, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
Fran Close, PhD , Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
Jeanne Zokovitch, PhD , Barry University, Miami-Shores, FL
Ledia Wilder, BS , Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
Background: The health status of the nation's poor is significantly less than the health status of the remainder of the population. Statistics indicate that disadvantaged populations suffer disproportionately from hazardous waste facilities in their community and the adverse health effects that accompany them. To understand the consequences of exposure to health hazards, health professionals should consider the experiences of individuals in local communities. To gain this understanding, it is important to provide training through practical experience, fellowships and internships. The aims of this program are to: 1) Provide a graduate internship that gives students the opportunity to utilize their didactic skills in a community-based setting on important environmental issues; and 2) Educate and empower the community with the tools needed to address their environmental concerns and protect their health. Methods: The year-long program emphasizes graduate training and development of research regarding disease and health problems that primarily affect disadvantaged persons. Students acquire experience in community environments that included research, political action, community organization, information dissemination and social change. Results: Approximately 17 students were able to critically examine environmental issues while gaining the necessary skills to identify and manage the effects of environmental toxins on the health of communities. Conclusions: The combination of experiential community-based learning and quality classroom efforts creates the qualified professional who, after graduation, is uniquely prepared to impact greater public health issues. This project was funded by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry through a cooperative agreement with the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe a fellowship model which prepares students to conduct community-based participatory research on important environmental issues. 2. Discuss environmental health issues which impact the quality of life for disadvantaged populations. 3. Describe/discuss tools used to increase community empowerment to address environmental concerns.

Keywords: Community-Based Public Health, Environmental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I currently serve as a graduate assistant to the Principal Investigator of the Fellowship Program. In addition, I have years of experience in the implementation of public health fellowship/internship programs.
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.