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Students "Embedded" in Community Agencies: What They Learned

November 11, 2019
Population Health Clerkship presentation

Medical students in the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health track and pharmacy students training at Baystate Health were "embedded" in community service organizations for two weeks this fall as part of their Population Health Clerkship.

They presented their findings and reflections to legislators, community members, and UMass and Baystate faculty at the UMass Medical School Baystate campus on November 7, 2019.

Focusing on a Community's Priorities

The eight teams of students worked with agencies that serve Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties.

Projects focused on priorities identified by the communities in which they were based—including, behavioral health access, teen vaping, transportation issues, food insecurity, substance use, and health benefits of urban tree planting.

Stigma—A Powerful Barrier to Care

Over and over, stigma was identified as a factor that kept people from receiving health and social services.

People experiencing poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and unemployment, or with physical and mental comorbidities, substance use disorders, or previous incarcerations are often discriminated against—which may make them reluctant to seek help.

Learning to Be Effective Advocates

Students developed recommendations based on their observations and interactions with agency staff and clients, and research findings about the health issues and populations that were the focus of their projects.

Each presentation culminated in an "advocacy pitch" designed to request funding and other support from potential sponsor organizations.