209466 Interdisciplinary community health internship experience: A student's perspective

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Raina E. Brown , School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Stratford, NJ
Issue: Public health, medical, and other healthcare students beginning their education often spend most of their time focusing on classes and exams. We learn about the unique issues facing the poor and disadvantaged from lectures and textbooks without ever interacting with people living in those circumstances. Off campus, there are economically disadvantaged areas that lack needed health related services. The Bridging the Gaps (BTG) Community Health Internship Program provides students training to be health professionals with hands-on experience within these underserved communities, allowing students to apply their classroom knowledge to real problems.

Description: I participated in the BTG program during the summer of 2008 while pursuing my Masters in Public Health. I was paired with a student from the School of Osteopathic Medicine and worked in a grassroots community center located in a high crime neighborhood in Camden, NJ. We immediately encountered numerous barriers affecting the center, most of which were related to the lack of resources. As part of an interdisciplinary team, we assessed the center's needs and addressed them by sharing our different perspectives and problem solving approaches. Developing programs and establishing summer camp certification were only a few of the projects we collaborated on over the summer.

Lessons Learned: I found that listening to and addressing the concerns of community members was vital, and made them more receptive to education. I am better prepared to handle challenges I will face as a professional.

Recommendations: Create awareness and encourage peer involvement in Bridging the Gaps and similar opportunities.

Learning Objectives:
Identify at least 4 organizational challenges faced by the community center List 5 educational contributions developed for the summer camp program Discuss the benefits of the interdisciplinary approach

Keywords: Service Learning, Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I participated in the community health internship program, and am discussing my own experiences.
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.