Community intervention projects as a strategy to integrate essential public health functions (EPHF) with clinical knowledge into the curriculum of medicine

Educ Health (Abingdon). May-Aug 2020;33(2):51-54. doi: 10.4103/efh.EfH_245_20.


Background: Students in medical school often do not get the opportunity to apply public health principles to their work. This can affect the likelihood that they will apply population and public health principles in practice.

Activities: From 2010 to 2015, the faculty of Medicine at Fundacion Universitaria San Martin from Sabaneta Campus - Colombia, developed an educational strategy called "Community Health Intervention Projects" (CHIP) as a new way to integrate essential public health functions with clinical knowledge into the curriculum. This approach was based on Community-Based Medical Education (COME) and Community-Oriented Primary Care. Seven CHIPS were developed by 65 undergraduate students partnering with organizations as two secondary schools, one clinic, two community-based groups, one nongovernmental organization, and two secretaries of health in four different cities.

Outcomes: The breastfeeding programs increased the time of breastfeeding by the mothers and the tools to measure breastfeeding have been used in other research projects (Medellin 2015, Envigado 2017). The project about increasing Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices in Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) in young scholars from two cities (Caldas and Sabaneta) served as a springboard for one of the students of medicine to receive a scholarship to attend the global forum in SRH "Women Deliver" in Kuala Lumpur in 2013. The project about Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery Health-care Program, addressed to children with asthma, were adopted by the Ambulatory Clinics Organization after the results of the pilot program (2016-2017). This project won the TUFH- FAIMER student projects for health award in 2016, showing the sustainability and generalizability of the educational program.

Conclusion: Health professions educators can use CHIPS to integrate the mission-related axes in their programs: Academia, research, and extension activities in a community setting.

Keywords: Community-based education; community-oriented primary care; public health essential functions.