Class of '21 medical student Sarah Sherman describes her group's Public Health Project findings. (Photo: UVM Medical Communications)
Now 15 years old, the Public Health Projects course at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine has yielded well over 200 projects in partnership with the United Way of Northwest Vermont, dozens of community collaborators and more than 100 professional publications. On January 23, members of the Class of 2021 showcased their work at a Poster Session & Community Celebration in the College's Hoehl Gallery.
“This year’s projects explored many of Vermont’s most challenging public health and social issues: opioid use and overdoses, food insecurity, and human trafficking,” says Associate Dean for Public Health Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H., who is course director for the Public Health Projects. Carney adds that some projects linked public health approaches and health care delivery, others suggested approaches to improve quality of life and others focused on health advocacy.
A total of 17 projects were completed by members of the Class of 2021, who worked in groups of seven to design tools for gaining a better understanding of these public health challenges, conduct research and collect and analyze data. The students received support and guidance from 18 Larner College of Medicine faculty and staff, along with 20 community faculty representing the social service agencies with which they were partnering.
Among the projects featured at the event were "Training: Key in Recognizing Potential Trafficking Victims in Healthcare Setting," conducted in partnership with Give Way to Freedom. The group surveyed healthcare workers at the UVM Medical Center and affiliated offices in Chittenden County, Vt., regarding their knowledge about recognizing and providing appropriate care to potential victims of human trafficking. Another project, titled "The Effect of Food Insecurity Training on Knowledge, Awareness, Screening, and Intervention Practices within Two Pediatric Wards at an Academic Medical Center, was conducted in collaboration with Hunger Free Vermont. The students in this group distributed a 15-question survey online to two pediatric units at the UVM Medical Center. Working with the American Lung Association of Vermont, another project, titled "Opportunities and Barriers to Implementing Tobacco 21 in Vermont, aimed to gain a better understanding of why Tobacco 21 legislation has been unable to pass in Vermont.
“Vermont’s public health issues are also national priorities, and our students’ projects contribute to broader knowledge of community engagement, health advocacy, and scholarship in public health,” says Carney.
Learn more about the Public Health Projects course.