The Professional Education Working Group undertook two major activities: multidisciplinary learning with health professionals, and a community development training project with public health employees.
A pilot educational program was developed to test a model of multidisciplinary learning in heart health. The Working Group jointly developed a case-based educational program employing the Primary Health Care model. Specific learning objectives were developed using Green's PRECEDE framework. Problem-based learning was selected as the educational approach, and the cases were created to incorporate the learning objectives deemed important by the multi-disciplinary team.
Three pilot communities participated with ten to twelve participants at each site, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, health educators, dietitians and recreation professionals. The project evaluation involved direct observation of the learning sessions, review of documentation, pre and post program questionnaires, and individual interviews. It was concluded that a multidisciplinary approach to planning and development of such a project is feasible, and that multidisciplinary case-based learning is an effective means for health professionals to acquire new knowledge related to CVD prevention. The multi-disciplinary approach also facilitated health professionals' collaboration in addressing heart health in their communities.
The Community Development Skills Training project was conceived by the Public Health Services Division, Department of Health and Heart Health Nova Scotia in recognition of requests from Public Health staff and successful experiences with community-based initiatives in the Heart Health Program.
Three teams carried out the project. The Planning Team oversaw, guided, and directed the implementation process. The Needs Assessment Team was trained to facilitate focus groups and used this method to collect information from Public Health personnel about training needs. The information was analyzed and used to develop the training curriculum. A four day workshop was designed in community development and needs assessment techniques. An important part of the program was a practicum which was carried out over a three month period. A two day follow-up session reinforced learning and dealt with issues that arose during the practicums. Throughout the program, the Evaluation Team met to design an internally administered, participatory evaluation. The evaluation plan included various mechanisms that were administered throughout the life of the project to assess the successes and challenges of the project.
Participants reported increases in skill and knowledge of the community development process, knowledge of facilitation skills, comfort in application of group facilitation skills, comfort levels with doing needs assessment, and confidence with community development process. Seventy-two percent of the participants found it very easy to apply the newly acquired skills.
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