With the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the need for health care providers to work collaboratively in teams to provide cost-effective, quality health care has become even more apparent because an estimated additional 22 million Americans gain health care coverage by 2014. The need for evidenced-based care that combines the expertise of various disciplines has been acknowledged by policy makers and health educators. With support from national Association for Prevention, Teaching and Research, an interprofessional education course was designed and implemented by health professionals in nursing, nutrition, and dentistry, in collaboration with a local community agency, to address the health care needs of women transitioning from prison to the community. Health care needs of women in prison are often overlooked, and access to care is limited. When released from prison, utilization of even basic health services is rare. Four interactive teaching-learning sessions were offered at a residential facility for women in transition over a 12-week period. Topics were selected based on feedback from the participants and included stress reduction, self-beast examination, hypertension, and common dental conditions. Teaching methods and materials were interactive and designed for sustainability. The model for this interprofessional education project, which employed a service-learning approach, can be adapted for other communities. Working with our communities requires innovative thinking to be effective but provides an enriching life experience to those involved. A community-based reciprocal learning environment benefits all partners in the real-world environment.
Keywords: Health care needs of previously incarcerated women; Health professional education; Interprofessional; Service–Learning.
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