From Classroom to Community

Published: August 3rd, 2013

Category: Department Life

StudentsMPH Students enrolled in a community-based participatory research course (CBPR) offered in the BSCH Department were engaged in much more than classroom learning this past Spring.

Professor Dr. Juliette Christie guided her students in an interactive learning experience, mentoring them as they conducted a community needs assessment of general health as well as HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs and services in collaboration with the Rural South Public Health Training Center (RSPHTC).

Results of their study were synthesized into education and training recommendations for public health workers that could be used to enhance services offered to the community. The RSPHTC will use these findings to inform the development of education and training programs for the public health workforce in medically-underserved counties in rural Florida.

MPH students outside of the CBPR course are also able to get involved in this unique learning experience by completing an internship or volunteering under the mentorship of Dr. Shalewa Noel-Thomas. The RSPHTC works closely with local health departments, community-based organizations, and other public health agencies to identify field placement opportunities for six MPH students each year. These internships promote service-based student learning while addressing a significant community need.

MPH student volunteers have the opportunity to implement needs assessments. The RSPHTC is conducting training needs assessments among administrators and HIV/AIDS program directors in local health departments.

The goals of the needs assessment include: 1) assess perceived needs for training in HIV/AIDS prevention, management and treatment; 2) identify strategies to improve delivery and reach of training and; 3) identify barriers to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

In addition, the RSPHTC is currently assessing the community’s perceptions about quality of services, access to care, health care policies, and other factors related to HIV prevention and management. MPH students are actively involved in conducting focus groups with rural residents and findings will be used to inform the development of training programs for the public health workforce.

These opportunities promote service-based student learning while simultaneously addressing a significant community need.

 Prior MPH Interns


For more information on the RSPHTC visit