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Integrating Service-Learning into an MPH Curriculum for Future Public Health Practitioners: Strengthening Community-Campus Partnerships

Anderson, Lisa S. MPH; Royster, Michael O. MD, MPH, FACPM; Bailey, Nannette EdM; Reed, Karen MA

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: July/August 2011 - Volume 17 - Issue 4 - p 324–327
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3182140bcc
Original Article

Through a 3-year grant from the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, the Virginia Commonwealth University MPH program adopted an incremental approach to implement service-learning focused on health disparities into its curriculum. We first incorporated service-learning into an elective course and then a required internship. We then worked with the Virginia Department of Health to develop a plan for first-year students to engage in additional experiential learning through a practicum. Students also were encouraged to organize community service events, such as health fairs. Service-learning was fully incorporated into the internship. The first-year student practicum, followed by the internship, has strengthened collaborations among faculty, students, and the Virginia Department of Health and expanded student service in the community. The number of student-supported community service events more than doubled. An incremental approach to incorporating service-learning led to successful implementation of the pedagogy. Service-learning benefits community partners, enriches student learning, and is well-suited for studies in public health.

This article describes the service-learning benefits community partners, enriches student learning, and is well-suited for studies in public health.

Department of Epidemiology & Community Health (Ms Anderson) and Center on Health Disparities (Ms Bailey), Virginia Commonwealth University; and Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, Virginia Department of Health (Dr Royster and Ms Reed), Richmond.

Correspondence: Lisa S. Anderson, MPH, Department of Epidemiology & Community Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, PO Box 980212, Richmond, VA 23298 (

A portion of the work summarized in this brief was funded with a grant from the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, originating with the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Human participant compliance statement: The project and initiatives described in this article did not involve human subjects. No IRB approval was necessary for the work.

The authors thank Amber Haley, MPH, and Erica E. Smith, MPH, for their work as graduate assistants while students, and Jill Rowe, PhD, assistant professor of African American Studies, for directing their program's first service-learning course.

Copyright © 2011 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.