Background: To meet the growing needs of communities with increased chronic conditions, decreased access to health services, and a changing sociocultural environment, there is a critical need for community-oriented physicians equipped with the skills to attend to the health of underserved populations. The Morehouse School of Medicine Community Health Course’s (CHC) purpose is to inculcate service-learning and public health techniques to equip community-oriented physicians with empathy and tools to effectively engage diverse communities and provide care that addresses the social determinants of health to achieve health equity. The purpose of this practice note is to discuss CHC multidisciplinary strategies used to sustain community partner relationships and impact public health. Methods: We work to effectively engage community partners in a number of ways including: a core approach that the partnership is designed to assess, listen to, and meet the communities’ needs; that community partners inform the course curriculum through a community advisory board, an introductory course community panel (of advice for effective engagement), and attendance at course meetings and retreats; a continued relationship between the course faculty and the community site over time; community representatives as co-authors on presentations and publications; and, at times, maintained student contact with the community sites for volunteer activities after completion of the course. Results: The Community Health Course collaborates with its community partners to educate medical students, provide requested services to the communities, and impact the health needs of the communities. The course has developed long-term partnerships varying in lengths from 1 year to over 15 years. The partner organizations over the last ten years have included pre-K-12 schools, independent senior living facilities, youth organizations, community-based organizations, and homeless shelters. Conclusions: Through long-standing collaborations with partnering organizations, the CHC has participated in the development of several sustainable projects traversing multiple levels of the social ecological model.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.