September 24, 2020 by
(Image courtesy of United Way of Northwest Vermont)
Aim is to determine most important community health issues in time of COVID-19
Many types of circumstances—unexpected and expected—can impact an individual’s and a community’s health, but a pandemic can turn things completely upside-down. After seven months of navigating in COVID-19’s uncharted waters, the community’s strengths and weaknesses have become clearer. That’s why Vermont United Ways and the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont are providing Vermonters with a say in prioritizing community health needs via a survey that is the largest and most comprehensive public health project ever conducted by UVM medical students.
The goal of the project is to understand community health and social needs from the community’s perspective to best meet priorities for the coming year.
UVM’s Larner College of Medicine has collaborated with United Way of Northwest Vermont for more than 15 years as part of its required Public Health Projects curriculum. In this course, second-year medical students work with nonprofit agencies in the area to help meet community health needs, conducting 17 public health projects to help address those needs.
“This year, COVID-19 brought additional community challenges, so the fall project our second-year students are conducting is a survey throughout Vermont,” said Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for public health and health policy and Public Health Projects course director at the Larner College of Medicine.
United Way of Northwest Vermont is leading this effort, engaging all United Ways in Vermont.
“As a community-led organization, United Way’s work is driven by what our neighbors tell us is most important to them,” said Amy Carmola, PhD, director of community impact at United Way of Northwest Vermont. “We’re looking for people’s perspectives and priorities on their health to be able to better assess community needs and direct our investments. We are grateful to be partnering with the Larner College of Medicine at UVM for this important work.”
The survey, which is totally voluntary and available both online and in hard copy form, takes about 15 minutes to complete. No identifying information is being collected and summary results will be made publicly available in December 2020.
A total of 17 small medical student groups will each look at one topic in the survey, conduct a literature review, analyze the data for their topic, and present the data and recommendations in a poster. In December, the Larner College of Medicine will host a virtual poster session to celebrate and highlight findings.
Link to the online survey.