Measuring institutional community engagement: Adding value to academic health systems

J Clin Transl Sci. 2019 Feb;3(1):12-17. doi: 10.1017/cts.2019.373.


Beyond medical schools' historical focus on pillar missions including clinical care, education, and research, several medical schools now include community engagement (CE) as a mission. However, most academic health systems (AHSs) lack the tools to provide metrics, evaluation, and standardization for quantifying progress and contributions of the CE mission. Several nationwide initiatives, such as that driven by the Institute of Medicine recommending advances in CE metrics at institutions receiving Clinical and Translational Science Awards, have encouraged the research and development of systematic metrics for CE, but more progress is needed. The CE components practical model provides a foundation for analyzing and evaluating different types of CE activities at AHSs through five components: research, education, community outreach and community service, policy and advocacy, and clinical care. At the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), an annual survey administered to faculty and staff assessed the types and number of CE activities from the prior year. Survey results were combined to create a CE report for departments across the institution and inform MCW leadership. Insights gathered from the survey have contributed to next steps in CE tracking and evaluation, including the development of a CE dashboard to track CE activities in real time. The dashboard provides resources for how individuals can advance the CE mission through their work and guide CE at the institutional level.

Keywords: Community engagement; academic health systems; community engagement dashboard; community-engaged research; measuring institutional community engagement.