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Meeting Local Needs While Developing Public Health Practice Skills: A Model Community-Academic Partnership

Rutkow, Lainie; Levin, Mindi B.; Burke, Thomas A.

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: September-October 2009 - Volume 15 - Issue 5 - p 425–431
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181903bdd
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Public health graduate education helps future practitioners to develop relevant skills, yet students have few opportunities to gain experience with community-level public health practice beyond work with health departments. Although the importance of academic-community partnerships is mentioned in the classroom, many students believe that they lack the time to pursue hands-on public health work in their local communities. Despite this, community-based organizations recognize the potential benefits of collaborating with public health students. This article describes the inception and implementation of the Connection Community Consultant Group, a program designed to increase interactions between students of public health and community-based organizations as well as to provide a forum for the application of students' developing public health knowledge and skills. Students who participate in the Connection gain public health practice experience in areas such as environmental health, healthcare access, health education, and violence prevention. The Connection serves as a model program for a mutually beneficial exchange: Graduate students can develop public health practice skills, and community-based organizations can capitalize on these skills to meet short-term needs.

This article describes the inception and implementation of a program designed to increase interactions between students of public health and community-based organizations.

Lainie Rutkow, JD, MPH, is Governing Board Member, SOURCE (Student Outreach Resource Center), Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Mindi B. Levin, MS, CHES, is Director, SOURCE (Student Outreach Resource Center), Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Thomas A. Burke, PhD, MPH, is Associate Dean for Public Health Practice and Training and Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Corresponding Author: Lainie Rutkow, JD, MPH, Governing Board Member, SOURCE (Student Outreach Resource Center), Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Room 587, Baltimore, MD 21205 (hrutkow@jhsph.edu).

The authors thank Jon Vernick for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. The authors also thank Leon Purnell of The Men's Center and RuSean Myers of the Maryland Institute College of Art.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.