Community-based practice program in a rural medical school: Benefits and challenges
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Background: Community-based education is a component of many medical curricula and may contribute to the solution of inequity in health services. Aims: This article evaluates a Community-based practice program (CBPP) conducted at Gippsland Medical School, Monash University. Students gain exposure to the community and conduct a community-based research project. The principal objective of the CBPP is to provide students with an opportunity to develop an interprofessional perspective on the application of social equity, justice and models of health interventions in the community. Methods: Students and representatives from community organisations (community educators) evaluated the CBPP using questionnaires, focus groups and interviews. Results: Students agree that participating in the CBPP improves understanding of community services, barriers and social determinants of health and the roles of health professionals. Community educators view the CBPP as a valuable platform for mutual learning for all parties involved, with students gaining real life experience. Challenges in the CBPP include formulating and conducting a research project and contextualisation of didactic material at community sites. Conclusion: From this evaluation, based as it is on 1 year and limited data, we cannot unequivocally claim that the program fully meets its overall objective; however, there are positive outcomes and pointers to success. © 2010 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved: reproduction in whole or part not permitted.
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