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Transforming Maternal and Child Health Training

Student headshot

February 18, 2019

An MPH student helps create an innovative learning tool for maternal and child health students.

Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) students enrolled in the Overview of Maternal and Child Health (CHP 517) course at Drexel University are playing a key role in the development of an e-learning mobile application (app) created to help maternal and child health (MCH) professionals and students train and further develop their skills. Students from the course are also contributing to app development. "[App] users can develop their leadership skills, such as cultural and linguistic capabilities from their phone," says Alexandra Trautman, MPH, Community Health and Prevention '20 and vice president of community activism in the Student Government Organization at DSPH.

Trautman is one of the students giving advice to the app team. "I have participated in conference calls with the development team, conducted background research, voiced my opinions, and given feedback," she says.

The project goal is to use the app to increase collaboration and information sharing among MCH professionals, as well as how they access information, educational materials, and track student progress in the field. The importance of effective communication in MCH education through scientific writing, public speaking, and advocacy is well known. However, the emerging professional use of mobile apps and social media necessitate advanced training in web-based communication among MCH trainees," says MCH program leaders Renee Turchi, MD, MPH, clinical professor in the department of Community Health and Prevention (CHP) and Renee Davis, MD MPH, coordinator and research associate in CHP.

It's unique in that it gives a safe place for future public health professionals, specifically MCH professionals, to practice how to digitally share in appropriate ways," says Trautman. "As social media becomes a more integral part of life, it is important that students enter the workforce competent and confident in their abilities to professionally share information."

The app team will be creating formal training modules to enhance MCH communication techniques and web-based information sharing and will introduce a "community manager" feature within the app during field experiences to foster a sense of community among students. Use of the app will be expanded to students in the Dornsife Global Development Scholars Program during their international field experiences in Spring 2019.

"We believe structured training specifically related to professional, ethical, and culturally competent web-based communication and information sharing, will enhance leadership skills and lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness of MCH professionals," say Turchi and Davis.

As for Trautman, she's looking forward to the project's next phase. "I want to continue to meet with the development team, analyze the data that is gathered after the launch, and even present the findings at conferences," she says.

The MCH Program at DSPH has been awarded a $3,000 grant by the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health for the second time to continue the development of the app created by team members including: Turchi, Davis, Raymond Lum, MS, associate teaching professor emeritus in the department of Health Management and Policy, Joel Rodriguez, Ed.D., consultant and adjunct instructor at Drexel, Idris T. Robinson, MPH, assistant director at the Dornsife Global Development Scholars Program, Vivianna Bermudez, director of communications and events at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, Drexel University, and Nicole Roberts, consultant and community manager for the app.