227340 Engaging public health students in conversations about differences, social determinants of health, & ‘learning to walk in others' shoes'

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 10:32 AM - 10:44 AM

Augusta M. Villanueva, PhD , School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Daryn Eikner, MS , Family Planning Council, Philadelphia, PA
Mary E. Hovinga, PhD , School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
This study provided a snapshot of first-year full-time public health students' (N=70) assessment of self-knowledge, perceptions regarding societal inequities, and suggested strategies to advance positive change in community health. In 2009, students in a community assessment course requiring a 120-hour community- based practicum responded to a two-part written assignment after viewing Parts One and Two of the documentary, Unnatural Causes. The nature of the documentary and written assignment, as well as the safe learning environment created by instruction combining Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and lectures allowed students to take risks in sharing: 1) reflections identifying factors influencing their selection of a public health career; 2) personal examinations and awareness of differences in health status across populations as related to the social determinants of health; and 3) proposals for advancing critically needed public health interventions. Poignant conversations examining socioeconomic status and class, gender, race, ethnicity, and the precursor conditions for health and well-being provided important teachable moments including the enhancement of students': a) self knowledge; b) ability examining how these factors affect health status/outcomes; c) capacity relating to peers within a large group; and d) acknowledgment that ‘learning to walk in others' shoes' is essential for effective community-based public health. Reflections noted the need to also understand the role of: a) privilege, b) institutional racism, c) structural change versus personal change, d) community responsibility versus individual responsibility; and e) factors that facilitate students' ability working with different populations, or ‘walking in another person's shoes' in the context of community-based public health practice.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the variety of perspectives that incoming public health students bring to this field of study. Explain the role of self-assessment and reflection when working with and in communities that may be different from one’s own. Identify factors extending beyond individual behavior and individual responsibility that impact the health and well-being of populations. Describe the imperative that accounting for all populations constitutes responsive and effective public health practice.

Keywords: Community-Based Public Health, Curricula

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve on the faculty of Drexel University's School of Public Health, where I oversee the first-year required community-based practicum.
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.