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What is Community Engagement?

According to CDC, community engagement is "the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices.”

In Academic Medical Centers this process of community engagement can include:

  • Creating health equity-focused community improvement activities including economic and infrastructure development
  • Developing experiential learning opportunities for medical students that are responsive to community needs and assets
  • Developing a diverse and culturally competent healthcare workforce through K-12 and college pipeline programs
  • Ensuring research questions, protocols, analyses, and dissemination efforts are co-developed with community partners
  • Enriching the community health needs assessments and implementation plans conducted and developed by not for profit teaching hospitals

Community Engagement Continuum thumbnail Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Principles of community engagement (2nd ed.) Atlanta (GA): CDC/ATSDR Committee on Community Engagement; 2011, pg.22.

The spectrum of community involvement ranges from providing the community with information to strong bidirectional relationships between community members and academic members.

Below is a selection of resources developed by the AAMC and national experts to enhance community engagement at medical schools and teaching hospitals. 

AAMC Community Engagement Resources

National Community Engagement Resources

From the Democracy Collaborative

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