Graduate Health Professions Education: An Interdisciplinary University - Community Partnership Model 1996-2001

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Introduction: In 1996, East Tennessee State University (ETSU) reinforced its historical commitment to multidisciplinary community engagement by developing a graduate level community partnerships program in the Division of Health Sciences. While the university's earlier health partnership efforts relied primarily on curricular innovation, the approach to graduate health professions education was to seed a series of curricular enhancements and interdisciplinary, community-based learning experiences and service into traditional curricula. This paper presents the experience of one school in crafting a regional network that became the basis of a division-wide graduate level teaching and learning initiative. Innovations and Evaluation: Carefully selected planning and implementation techniques enabled multidisciplinary practitioners and community members from across a 20-county region to participate with university faculty in training ETSU learners in community-based medical care. By year four of the project, curricular "enhancements" were institutionalized in over five departments across the Division and engaged 1160 medical residents and graduate learners in a give - get model of health education. Programme evaluation methodology was collaboratively defined and documentation of programme effort and outcomes regularly reported and strategically reviewed. Conclusions: Programme evaluation demonstrates mutual benefit to community and university. Faculty involvement in programme activity increased fourfold and community involvement in training of health professions graduate learners increased threefold by year four. Educational innovations were adopted into traditional curricula, thousands of hours of clinical services were provided to underserved communities and the university-community team forged by network links continues to promote multidisciplinary interests through joint public policy endeavors.