ABOVE: Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residents Jordan Cascante, DO (left), and Courtney Swantek, MD, staff the continuity clinic with Mary Stapel, MD, clinical assistant professor.
TOP: Anna Serrano (UICOMP Class of 2023, in white coat) with staff of Central Illinois Friends during her community health elective.
Graduate Medical Education
UICOMP residents may enroll in the Graduate Medical Education (GME) program’s Community Health Elective, an immersive, two-week community engage-ment experience. The elective improves residents’ understanding of the population they serve, priority health issues, health and health care disparities, and factors affecting the health of the population, including social determinants of health.
The main focus of this elective is to connect the physicians with the community organizations that serve a variety of populations, provide clinical and/or social services and serve as advocates on a range of issues. During the two-week experience, the residents visit each collaborating community organization including:
- Peoria City/County Health Department
- Faith Community Nursing (Care-A-Van and Senior World)
- Central Illinois Friends
- Hult Center for Healthy Living
- EP!C Foundation of Central Illinois
- Peoria Proud
- Children’s Home Association of Central Illinois
- Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters
- House of Hope Peoria, Inc.
The rotation at Peoria City/County Health Department covers a broad focus and allows residents to learn more on the priority health needs in the community, women-infant-child services, and emergency preparedness. Organizations like Peoria Proud focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice issues through advocacy, education, and outreach. Through OSF Faith Community Nursing Care-A-Van, residents observe and provide care to socially disadvantaged populations, and Senior World visits give insight into geriatric health. Central Illinois Friends rotation equips residents with sexual health and HIV/AIDS information, education, services, and advocacy.
The experience at EP!C allows residents to gain deeper understanding of the issues faced by the individuals and families living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. House of Hope rotation provides insight on trauma informed care, HOI Big Brothers Big Sisters focuses on nurturing children and strengthening families and communities. The Children’s Home Association of Illinois provides support and resources to children and families, especially at-risk youth. At the Hult Center, residents get involved in health education and prevention opportunities for a variety of populations and age groups. Through the discussions with the organizational officials and individuals seeking services at these organizations, residents gain a deeper understanding of the individual, familial, organizational and systemic contexts. This experience better prepares residents to provide compassionate, patient-centered care.
In addition to the rotations, the elective also includes readings, viewings (audio/video), trainings, discussions, reflective writing, and an issue-based paper.
“Residents participating in the elective have the opportunity to connect with the organizations to learn more about the services provided, the populations served, and the needs of the community,” says Gauri Shevatekar, MBBS, who is course director of the GME elective. “This gives residents exposure to the barriers and facilitators to care faced by the organizations and the populations they serve.”
Rotation at these sites foster physician engagement and participation within the community as well as their involvement in broader public health issues. These organizations serve as a valuable resource for the community. Through these collaborations, the physicians are able to connect their patients with the available resources, effectively addressing the social determinants affecting their patient population.
Shevatekar says while learning is key, just as important is the collaboration and future possibilities. “Another goal of the elective is to build long-term collaboration among providers and the community organizations to improve community health. This can be possible through health education and health promotion as well as opening the doors for collaborative research.”
While this elective is broad-based, UICOMP GME programs also offer other community-based health electives with a more focused scope. Examples include electives in Community Health and Advocacy, Community-Based Research, and Global Rural Simulation.