Jefferson University Partnership Uses Health of the Public Funding to Expand Community Health Projects in Philadelphia

Health of the Public: An Academic Challenge

Between 1993 and 1997, project staff at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, expanded coverage of topics concerning population health in the Jefferson Medical College curriculum and established university-community partnerships to promote the health of individuals living in and around Center City Philadelphia.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Health of the Public: An Academic Challenge.

The partnerships involved the medical college, the College of Allied Health Sciences, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, other area medical schools, and community organizations.

The project worked in collaboration with other RWJF initiatives, including:

  • The Pennsylvania Generalist Physician Initiative at Pennsylvania State University Medical School in Hershey, Pa.
  • Bridging the Gaps: Philadelphia Community Health Internship Program, a local initiative that also involved the University of Pennsylvania Health of the Public project. It places medical students from all of the city's medical schools in community health-related projects.

Key Results:

  • All first-year Jefferson Medical College students were given a community-based learning experience during the 1995–96 academic year, including at least four sessions at community ambulatory practice settings.

    This experience was integrated into the required "Doctor in Health and Illness" course, which was retooled to enhance patient-care experiences and the teaching of interviewing skills, history-taking, and physical diagnosis.
  • Some 39 first-year students participated in the JeffMOMS program, a continuing experience with pregnant women in Jefferson's obstetrics and gynecology clinic or in the offices of participating community-based obstetrician/gynecologists.
  • In 1996, 19 students participated in the Bridging the Gaps: Philadelphia Community Health Internship Program, which also involved Health of the Public students from the University of Pennsylvania. Students worked at local service agencies while studying issues related to the populations they were serving (e.g., homelessness, AIDS/HIV, sickle cell disease, chronic mental illness).
  • Faculty and students conducted four scholarly research projects on subjects related to population-based medicine.
  • More than 500 students and 50 faculty participated in a student-directed clinic for the homeless during the 1995–96 academic year, and Jefferson ran a seminar series to educate students in issues related to homeless care and care for other vulnerable populations.
  • Jefferson developed and implemented a community service-learning program (a course-based community service program) based on the Bridging the Gap model.

    Five students participated in the paid service-learning experience at community service organizations.
  • A newsletter was produced in spring 1996 describing the work completed by the Health of the Public project in that academic year.

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