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Year : 2000  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 213-220

The Del Rio Project: A Case for Community–Campus Partnership

1 Professor, College of Public & Allied Health, East Tennessee State University, Rogersville, TN, USA
2 Program Coordinator, Hawkins County Community Partnership Program, East Tennessee State University, Rogersville, TN, USA

Correspondence Address:
Bruce Goodrow
Hawkins County Teaching Center, East Tennessee State University, PO Box 609, Rogersville, TN 37857
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Context: Interdisciplinary teams of graduate health professions students and faculty were provided with experiential learning opportunities while assisting a small rural community address critical health-related issues. Project objectives: To establish an effective partnership with community leaders and area residents to assist in determining the feasibility of a new primary care clinic and to remediate a water borne disease threat. To create interdisciplinary clinical learning experiences and to develop future longitudinal learning opportunities, emphasizing primary prevention. To create a community– campus partnership with control originating in and sustained by the community. Partnership development: An interdisciplinary team of health professions students and faculty worked with community leaders and residents to develop leadership skills, enhance infrastructure and coordinate efforts to address health concerns. A health marketing analysis and a series of year-long environmental assessments of surface and ground water were completed. The community was assisted with reaching consensus for future actions, emphasizing local control, enhanced county-based ownership, and sustainability of intervention efforts. Outcomes and implications: The Del Rio and East Tennessee State University partnership was instrumental in accomplishing its short-term objectives with the remediation of two major health issues. The more important long-term objectives of enhancing citizen leadership skills and developing a more action-oriented community infrastructure were also met. Using an experiential learning model, students practiced community organization skills, conflict resolution and problem-solving strategies. The campus–community partnership illustrated the advantages of experiential, multidisciplinary education and accentuated the positive aspects of collaborative planning and action. The partnership continues to provide expanded learning opportunities for students and contributes to the empowerment and self-sufficiency of the community. The ripple effects of the model have become evident, with dramatic increases in university-wide efforts to increase partnership opportunities and enhanced support for service learning throughout the region.

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