This summer, CCI partnered with units across the University of Notre Dame and local Community Health Professionals on an innovative project in the South Bend community. Jessica Brookshire from UND Office of Clinical Partnerships, Jennifer Burke Lefever from UND Shaw Center for Children and Families, and Jill Pentimonti from UND Research Advancement mentored a four person intern team of local undergraduate and high school students tasked with understanding the needs of the newly formed Michiana Health Coalition.
The interns - Notre Dame students Grace Hartzer (Chemical Engineering ‘25), Ginika Kalu (Architecture ‘25) and Tram Trinh (Computer Science ‘24), and Penn High School student Arda Kurama - were tasked with surveying and interviewing the members of the Michiana Health Coalition to gain an understanding of the challenges they are facing and their needs. During the process, the team learned that although there were initial thoughts about the needs and challenges of the Coalition it was important to develop survey and focus group questions that were open-ended and not leading so participants could answer fully and accurately.
Throughout the eight weeks the interns conducted research, developed a survey, facilitated 2 focus groups, and made recommendations based on the data. “Our goal was to learn about effective ways to get accurate and timely information into the hands of people working with vulnerable community members so that they can be referred to available services. The interns’ work helped us understand some of the barriers to access this information within different contexts within the community and to point us in the direction of opportunities. This will help us make decisions about how to use the resources available to us moving forward,” said Jennifer Burke LeFever.
The intern project was so successful that the mentor team hopes to continue the work and implement some of the recommendations.