Beginning in June 2008, SEH members worked with community partners in Codman Square (Dorchester, MA) to implement a pilot for a transdisciplinary service-learning program. The aims of this project are:
- To foster transdisciplinary approaches to alleviating root causes of social inequities
- To enhance synergistic relationships between Boston communities and Boston University.
- Community-based professional training (i.e. medical education) has been shown to have a number of benefits for both the academic institution and the partnering community members. Boston University has many established relationships with Community Health Centers in Boston. These relationships are underutilized at the graduate student level and could provide significant service-learning opportunities in a variety of fields.
- The financial, medical, legal, and educational services for people in low-opportunity environments have many gaps and overlaps in service activities. Transdisciplinary teams in primary health care can improve quality of care, innovation, patient satisfaction, employee satisfaction and cost-effectiveness. In low-resource settings, these benefits are particularly cogent.
Given the existing relationships between Boston University and Boston Community Health Centers, how can we use a transdisciplinary team approach to improve the quality of services provided in low-opportunity environments while providing opportunities for service-learning that yield a mutual benefit for academic institutions and community residents?
SEH worked with partners from community organizations (DotWell CivicHealth Institute and F.A.M.I.L.Y., Inc.) based in Codman Square (Dorchester, MA) to develop a transdisciplinary service-learning program that attempts to mutually benefit the academic (Boston University) and community organizations. SEH members met with multiple stakeholders from the academic and Codman Square community to ensure that the program design would incorporate as many interests as possible. Funding for these efforts was partially provided by a grant from the Spectrum of Physician Advocacy student group at Boston University School of Medicine.
Social Impact Results
During the 2009 Spring Semester, a team of six graduate students from Boston University Schools of Education, Law, Medicine and Public Health are working with a fiscal health case manager from DotWell and with residents of the Franklin Field Housing Development (Dorchester, MA) to improve the fiscal health of residents. The Transdisciplinary Impact Team will act as advocates on behalf residents when interfacing with the many social services (i.e. medical, legal, educational, and financial) that are involved in their wellbeing. In addition to this service, the team will undergo a number of leadership development activities and a series of lessons complementary to their service activities.
After completion of the Pilot Program in May 2009, we plan to institutionalize the program at Boston University and to expand it to involve more students and community residents. This first phase of expansion and development will be completed by August 2009 and will incorporate evaluation and recommendations from the Pilot Program education and service activities.
- Ruddy and Rhee. Transdisciplinary teams in primary care for the underserved: a literature review. Journal of health care for the poor and underserved (2005) vol. 16 (2) pp. 248-56
- Seifer et al. Creating Community-Responsive Physicians: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Medical Education. . AAHE’s Series on Service-Learning in the Disciplines (2000)