142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Beyond Experiential Learning: Evaluation of the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program through a Graduate-Level Health Services Management Course

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 10:50 AM - 11:10 AM

Amy B. Martin, DrPH , Division of Population Health, James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Grishma Bhavsar, MPH , SC Rural Health Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Melinda Merrell, MPH , SC Office of Rural Health, Lexington, SC
Background: “Perspectives in Rural Health” is a graduate course where students analyze forces affecting rural health systems.  It won the 2010 National Delta Omega Award for Innovative Public Health Curriculum.  The course was enhanced in 2013 by engaging students in the evaluation of South Carolina’s Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex), a federal initiative that improves access to care through technical assistance to rural hospitals.  By engaging students in an actual contracted service, they applied learning in practical ways and gained ‘real world’ experiences to inform their professional purposes and enhance their resume competitiveness.

Methods: Thirteen students were organized into five teams, one for each hospital, to assess benchmarks in:  (1) finance/operations; (2) quality of care; (3) health system development and community engagement.  Benchmarks were assessed using secondary data and information students collected through survey and structured interviews with hospital leadership teams.  Cultural immersion activities were included to enhance social health determinants learning.   Their work was produced in a report, submitted to the contracting organization, SC Office of Rural Health (SCORH). 

Findings:  Students preferred the experiential work over traditional methods (12 of 13 students).  All students reported the activity allowed them to gain and develop knowledge that would be useful to their careers. Two of 13 students completed public health practica with SCORH, who also hired one at graduation.

Conclusion:  The approach addressed an analytical need for a community partner in a cost-efficient way that cultivated the pipeline of public health leadership in rural South Carolina.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health administration or related administration
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe the process for using graduate-level public health course in conducting an actual program evaluation with a community partner. Discuss how an experiential learning opportunity improves the pipeline for public health leadership. Demonstrate how academic and community partners can achieve the IOM academic health department model

Keyword(s): College Students, Rural Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the Deputy Director of the SC Rural Health Research Center and faculty in the Department of Health Services Policy and Management, Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina since 2005. Prior to that I was the Associate Director for the SC Office of Rural Health. I am a previous recipient of the Delta Omega Innovative Public Health Curriculum Award and NIH Loan Repayment Grant for Health Disparities Research.
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.