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Population & Community Health Clerkship project collage

Celebrating the people, partners and projects that have made such an impact!

Population and Community Health Clerkship—5 Year Retrospective

Collaborate       ~     Innovate      ~      Advocate

2018 — 2022

student store
community network

153 students

15 community partners

39 community projects

3 education partners

The Anchor to Longitudinal Community Experiences

The Population and Community Health Clerkship (PCHC) is an immersive experience in which a student works in interprofessional teams at a community-based organization in one of the rural and urban communities served by Baystate Health. Similar to getting to know an individual patient, students get to know the communities where our patients live, learn, work, play, pray, and age.

In PURCH, PCHC is the anchor to a continuing community experience in which foundational social determinants of health concepts are expanded on and woven throughout the entire 4-year medical school curriculum. A student's PCHC experience can activate an interest in the health issues or populations they worked with, and launch further exploration through electives, flexible professional experiences, or other projects. 

Advocacy With, and For, The Community

PCHC students deliver a 60 second advocacy pitch as part of their final presentation—telling a compelling story designed to lead community stakeholders and lawmakers to take action.

Transportation Equity

A PCHC project at the Quaboag Connector/Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation in the town of Ware informed a successful grant proposal to the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. The 3-year Quaboag Connector - Synergy Initiative Grant addresses rural transportation as a social determinant of health.

Food Justice

A 2018 PCHC project focused on food insecurity at the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Center identified needs that impact the health and wellbeing of community residents who use their emergency food pantry. It helped secure a grant to create a referral process between the food pantry and Mason Square Neighborhood Health Center.

2022 Partners and Projects

Ambrook Village

Introduction to Assisted living: Best Practices in the Care of Residents with Dementia
> Read a student's blog post "Interprofessional students bridge across disciplines to learn to care for people with dementia"

Estoy Aqui

La Cultura Sana (The Culture Cures): Addressing Community Mental Health through Cultural Responders
 > La Cultura Sana was featured on Connecting Point—watch the segment here

Quaboag Hills Substance Use Alliance

Substance Use and Mental Health for Youth & Young Adults

Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation

The Quaboag Connector: Developing a sustainable model for rural transportation

ReGreen Springfield

Healing Springfield: Promoting Physical and Mental Health


Diameter of a Bullet: Six Degrees of Separation of Gun Violence

Rural Health Network of Franklin County and the North Quabbin


Square One

Urban Neighborhoods: Addressing Food Insecurity and Access to Physical Activities

Wellness on Wheels (WoW) Bus

Community Assessment of Springfield Food Systems

Spotlight on Progress

Some organizations have been with us for several years and it’s exciting to see their progress. Here are two of them.

ReGreen Springfield

ReGreen Springfield logo

Through our environmental advocacy efforts, ReGreen Springfield has collaborated with businesses, community organizations, educational partners, and agencies to promote the reforestation of Springfield, improve growing conditions for trees, and engage new allies in tree care, education, and citizen science. ReGreen Springfield has carried out scientific studies in Springfield through partnerships with federal, state, and local municipalities, to determine the value of greenspaces and urban forests, related to ecosystem services, fiscal value, and social significance. Using community ‘citizen scientists’, these efforts have provided information and educational resources that are used to help determine local actions that make the community more sustainable, resilient, and able to address global climate change.

Healing Springfield: Promoting Physical and Mental Health through Tree Plantings

Progress Report from David Bloniarz, PhD, President, ReGreen Springfield

ReGreen Springfield Population and Community Health Clerkship GroupOver the past several years, the PCHC clerkship has enabled ReGreen Springfield to explore topics related to the greenspace in Springfield, including the importance, value, and healthful benefits that trees provide in urban settings. Using the most economically challenged neighborhoods of Springfield as our study area, data collection, analysis and reporting has provided current, real-time data and information related to the current beneficial impacts of trees growing in the North End, South End, McKnight, Old Hill, and Upper Hill neighborhoods. In addition to gathering information and data on trees and greenspace, the PCHC students have examined social and environmental justice issues related to these neighborhoods. (photo: 2021 PCHC Team L to R—Dave Bloniarz, Gabi Walsh, Juliana Arenas, Nava Parvaneh)

The program has grown each year, with the students building upon the work of the previous year’s clerkship and has become more in-depth and relevant with each new class. Changes in the social condition of the country have made the work of the last two clerkships even more important and useful, as ReGreen Springfield works to advocate for environmental justice across the city, using science and real-time data to support its community engagement and education efforts.

Building upon the work of previous clerkships, the PCHC program has provided useful, relevant, timely and scientifically based information and advocacy to some of Springfield’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. It has been a great partnership! 

  > Get a closer look at the students and their projects    2019     2020    2021    2022

Square One

Square One logo

Square One is a 501(c)(3) was founded in 1883 in Springfield, Massachusetts, as both a job training and child care program. The organization is a private, not-for-profit leader in providing family services programs and affordable, high-quality early education and care. We are an integral component in a community network of partnerships that assist children and families with services designed to help them overcome the challenges of poverty to become stronger and more self-sufficient.

Urban Neighborhoods: Addressing Food Insecurity

Progress Report from Dawn Distefano, MPA, President & CEO, Square One

Square One Population and Community Health Clerkship group

Square One has been a partner in the PURCH program since its inception and students have built upon previous years' work focused on healthy food for young children and access to food for families. Our early PURCH years focused on healthy food in the classroom—working with staff to develop menus that incorporate a majority of fresh fruits and vegetables. Students engaged with family members and caretakers to identify barriers and challenges to accessing the same fresh food in their local communities. Each year Square One and PCHC students collaboratively strengthen and expand our capacity to serve the healthiest food to children and support families to access the same healthy options. (photo: 2019 PCHC Team L to R—Iha Kaul, Chrystal Wittcopp, Christine Callahan, Olivia Nuelle, Abigail Henry)

  > Get a closer look at the students and their projects    2018    2019    2020    2021    2022

Our Community and Education Partners

Baypath University logo Estoy Aqui logo FRCOG logo Square One logo
2022 2022 2019 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

Armbrook Village logo ReGreen Springfield logo MLK Jr Family Services logo MCPHS logo
2020, 2021, 2022 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 2018, 2020, 2021 2021, 2022

BeHealthy Partnership logo Roco logo Quaboag Hills Substance Use Alliance logo Tapestry logo
2020, 2021 2021, 2022 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 2019, 2020, 2021

WNEU College of Pharmacy logo Revitalize CDC logo Quaboag Connector logo Rural Health Network of Franklin County
2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 2018 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 2020, 2022

  Baystate Health WOW Bus Gandara Center logo  
  2021, 2022 2019