Integrating Healthy Communities concepts into health professions training

University of Massachusetts Medical School, Shrewsbury 01545, USA.
Public Health Reports (Impact Factor: 1.55). 09/2000; 115(2-3):266-70.
Source: PubMed


To meet the demands of the evolving health care system, health professionals need skills that will allow them to anticipate and respond to the broader social determinants of health. To ensure that these skills are learned during their professional education and training, health professions institutions must look beyond the medical model of caring for communities. Models in Seattle and Roanoke demonstrate the curricular changes necessary to ensure that students in the health professions are adequately prepared to contribute to building Healthy Communities in the 21st century. In addition to these models, a number of resources are available to help promote the needed institutional changes.

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    ABSTRACT: University of Hawaiis John A. Burns School of Medicine is undergoing an historical transition which has involved departmental reorganization and creation of several new departments including the Division of Ecology and Health. In establishing this new unit, the US medical school leadership recognized the importance of addressing the cultural and ecological dimensions of health in research and education programs toward achieving the medical schools vision to become the premier US medical school in the Asia-Pacific region. The Divisions establishment also was compelled by schools mission to serve the unique health needs of the people of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, particularly those of indigenous populations with particularly high rates of chronic disease and significant community health issues. This especially depends on innovative, community-based, ecological approaches to research and practice, and integrating concepts at the interface of ecological and health sciences into the medical curriculum. Planning and beginning to implement this integration is one the Divisions early objectives. The approach being taken is based on the use of themes emerging from the new biomedical–behavioral synthesis and the application of ecological concepts, principles, and models. The former involves existing basic science subject matter already taught, which can be conceptually framed and interrelated in terms of the latter. Together, these themes and an ecohealth perspective will facilitate basic science learning by providing a more comprehensive and meaningful conceptual matrix to interrelate basic science concepts and facts. The opportunities and impediments to integrating ecohealth within the curriculum take the form of bridges and barriers. Opportunities exist where linkages can be, and already have been, made between disciplines and departments to encourage interdisciplinary learning and transdisciplinary problem-solving drawing on ecological themes and concepts. Apprehension toward unfamiliar scientific territory and competing demands represent significant barriers. These are nonetheless believed to be surmountable over time, especially by exploiting ecohealths transdisciplinary dimension to facilitate and enrich the learning experience, rather than adding ecohealth-related subject matter as a learning objective to an already full curriculum and student workload.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2004 · EcoHealth
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