Case Studies in Community Health


Jo Fairbanks & Judith Candelaria

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    This book, Case Studies in Community Health, is written for students in public and community health courses. The purpose of the book is to help students apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to real-life situations in public health settings. Public health practice occurs in a social context and is subject to all the complexities of a social environment. The case study approach to learning allows students to transfer knowledge and gain insight into real public and community health issues.

    What is a case study? A case study typically is a description of a situation that requires some form of exploration and decision making by the student. Case studies can be from one paragraph to many pages in length. In Case Studies in Community Health, many of the cases are based on actual events experienced by the authors. The names of the people and the dialogue in the cases are fictional.

    The book is organized into three parts: Epidemiology, Public Health Administration, and Health Program Planning. The first case study in Part I provides students with an understanding of the basic language of epidemiology. The other case studies in this part allow students to apply their knowledge of epidemiology to three very different settings.

    The case studies in Part II examine the regulatory roles and administrative responsibilities of public health agencies. Through these case studies, the students will apply their knowledge of leadership and communication skills to problem solving in complex and diverse situations. Finally, this part closes with a case study on managed care and the role of public health.

    Part III places the students in a variety of community practice settings for the purpose of planning health programs. Students will apply the planning process to a variety of populations in both rural and urban areas. The last case study in the book provides the students with an opportunity to develop an evaluation for the health program plan developed in a previous case.

    Students may or may not have an opportunity to read the case before class. Spontaneity often improves and enlivens the discussion in class. There is no one right answer to any of the situations.

    Students do have the responsibility to actively participate by applying knowledge, reason, and creativity to the discussion of the case study. Active participation includes speaking out as well as listening to others. There should be ongoing feedback between students, because it is this interaction that promotes learning.

  • About the Authors

    Jo Fairbanks, PhD, is currently teaching in the Master's in Public Health degree program at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. In addition to extensive classroom experience, she has also spent many years in public health practice. She uses problem-based learning in all of her classes. Dr. Fairbanks is a co-author of The Public Health Primer (1998).

    Judith Candelaria, MSN, RN, is the chief of the Chronic Disease Prevention & Control Bureau in the New Mexico Department of Health. She also teaches part-time in the nursing program at the University of Phoenix, New Mexico campus. She has 20 years of experience in community and public health practice settings in both staff and management roles.

    The case studies in Case Studies in Community Health are drawn from the authors' experiences.

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