From Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine:

First KPSOM Cohort Completes Community-based Learning Program

The achievement culminated with an inaugural celebration

July 26, 2022

The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine (KPSOM) Service-Learning Course in collaboration with the school’s Department of Health Systems Science, Office of Community Engagement, and community partners—hosted a celebration on July 21, 2022, at the school’s Medical Education Building to commemorate the Class of 2024 cohort’s completion of community-based learning experiences. The inaugural event marked the first time KPSOM students achieved this major milestone since the medical school opened its doors in July 2020.

“We are thrilled to celebrate our very first cohort of students who have had an opportunity to take part in a program aimed at improving the health of communities,” said Lori Carter-Edwards, PhD, MPH, KPSOM Assistant Dean for Community Engagement. “Through interactions with our community partners, students have become more knowledgeable, credible, and trusted partners to the patients, communities, and community partners with whom they are working. Further, their deep engagement at these facilities has hopefully equipped them with skills necessary to be more well-rounded medical students, capable of understanding both barriers and facilitators to health and health equity in the communities they serve.”

KPSOM student Lucero Amaral discusses her project with Dr. Maureen Connelly

Over the past two years, KPSOM students have taken part in community-defined opportunities in collaboration with mentors and community partners at eight Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) across the Southern California region, which include: Family Health Care Centers of Greater Los Angeles; JWCH Center for Community Health (Downey); JWCH Center for Community Health (Los Angeles); ParkTree Community Health Center; South Bay Family Health Care, part of Venice Family Clinic; St. John’s Well Child & Family Center; UMMA Community Clinic; and Valley Community Healthcare.

Through the KPSOM Service-Learning course, students engaged in practicum projects at their assigned FQHCs to address and learn more about the upstream drivers of health that are impacting communities. Participants also mobilized resources that help reduce health inequities to advance community engagement efforts. Practicum projects ranged from improving preventive health screening rates to art-based healing in Skid Row to increasing awareness for transgender health programs, and more. 

Practicum participation at the FQHCs also helped students learn relevant information about population and community health, critical consciousness (the knowledge of systems and structures that create inequities followed by action to mitigate these inequities), and social accountability (commitment to activities aimed at addressing social and structural factors to reduce health-related inequities)—which are all key practicum goals.

Co-Course Directors Dr. Jung Kim and Dr. Isabel Chen

Isabel Chen, MD, MPH, Co-Course Director, explained that the culmination of the two-year Service-Learning course is a testament to the countless community partners who supported the spirit of the course, which she said is designed to “open the hearts and minds of learners to the expertise of [the course’s] community partners” and allow student participants to collaborate in activities that advance health and justice.

“The Service-Learning course at KPSOM is a unique opportunity for our students to go beyond the healthcare delivery systems and immerse themselves in the local community,” said Jung Kim, PhD, MPH, CPH, Co-Course Director. “Through a community-based curriculum that focuses on dissecting the structural and social determinants of health, our students and faculty collaborate with their community partners to become systems change agents together and help address health disparities.”

“The extent to which community partners opened their doors and our learners opened their minds to advance collaborative health equity activities has been nothing short of inspiring,” said Dr. Chen. “To navigate new relationships and projects amidst a pandemic is an enormous undertaking and we are so deeply appreciative of the gift of patience and inclusion from our community partners. We hope that the relationships and memories made over the last few years will inform and inspire the careers of our future physicians and ignite an unwavering commitment to the greater communities in which they live, practice, and serve.”