Matt Schorr
February 8, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Two Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) staff presented as Gold Mining Session Leaders at the Justice and Advocacy for Health in Tennessee Symposium. Jacquelyn S. Favours, MPH, CPH, CHES and Pilar Prather, M.Ed presented “Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance: A Community-Academic Partnership Fostering Community-Engaged Research.” They introduced medical students to the concept of community-engaged research (CEnR) and provided examples of MVA community academic partnerships.


Community research and partnerships

CEnR is a collaborative process between researchers and community partners, Favours and Prather explained. It creates and disseminates knowledge with the goal of contributing to the community’s wellbeing.

They highlighted the local impact of the MVA’s Faith and Health Collaborative Project with the Nashville Health Disparities Coalition (NHDC) and the Interprofessional Education (IPE) Pilot Project.


Faith and health

The Faith and Health Collaborative Project aims to promote health equity and reduce health disparities. The project is part of the MVA’s partnership with the NHDC, a collaboration of interdisciplinary academic organizations and professionals whose aim is to reduce or eliminate health disparities in the metropolitan Nashville community

“The collaborative project focuses on supporting and engaging the faith community,” Favours said.


Pilot Project

The Pilot Project is a collaborative effort between academia and the community. Students in the healthcare field work together with non-profit organizations for the betterment their community. It pairs students with non-profit agencies in a real-world setting.

“Projects like this are vital,” Prather said. “It’s crucial that we learn how to work as teams to take care of people.”


Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network

The MVA is a national leader of CEnR, they both noted, due in no small part to its work with the Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network (MS-CDRN), which provides access to a broad array of clinical data, patients, providers and systems to address numerous research questions.

“We help support local and national initiatives to improve health equity by doing community and academic partnerships, and capacity-building for research,” they said.


Advocacy in medicine

The symposium, hosted by four Tennessee medical school Gold Humanism Honor Society chapters – Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUMC), Meharry Medical College (MMC), East State Tennessee University James H. Quillen College of Medicine and University of Tennessee College of Medicine – was a one-day event dedicated to providing Tennessee medical trainees the chance to engage with and employ advocacy in medicine. Students and residents had the opportunity to meet and learn from leaders in health advocacy across the state and form action plans to address health issues in the patient communities they serve.

The Gold Mining sessions allowed attendees to learn from exemplars of health advocacy.


About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.