A Rural Community-Based Interdisciplinary Curriculum: A Social Work Perspective

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Although social workers are frequently part of interdisciplinary teams in health care and community settings, interdisciplinary training is often lacking in social work education (Berg-Weger & Schneider, 1998). This article describes a study of the effects of an interdisciplinary community-based experiential course preparing new health care professionals for work as part of interdisciplinary teams. The interdisciplinary curriculum was established for a summer course taught in 2006 by faculty from five disciplines: social work, nutrition, medicine, nursing, and public health. The course, Quality Improvement in Rural Healthcare, which focused on health literacy in people with a diagnosis of diabetes that live in northeast Tennessee, provided a model environment for learning interdisciplinary teamwork. Evaluation of this course found that social work students displayed a statistically significant increase in positive attitude toward interdisciplinary teamwork. Course strengths, weaknesses, obstacles, and opportunities for curriculum improvement are elaborated.