CPPH/CBSL information for community organizations

Community, Population and Public Health (CPPH) and the Community-Based Service-Learning (CBSL) Placement 

Community, Population and Public Health (CPPH) is a mandatory course for all first-year medical students. This longitudinal course runs to the end of our students’ second year, and covers topics that can be linked back to the social determinants of health and community health. Several experiential components, including the Community-Based Service-Learning (CBSL) placement directly involve community organizations as co-educators to teach our students how community acts as a partner in health.

The CBSL placement is an opportunity for students to answer for themselves the question, “why are some people healthier than others?” Students engage in and contribute to the work of a community-based organization in two key ways:     

  • By participating in ongoing activities that support an organization’s mission and vision (for example, facilitating programming, assisting with outreach, observing groups, visiting with clients, etc.)
  • By completing an additional Service-Learning Activity that builds capacity at the organization, and responds to community-identified need(s)

The additional Service-Learning activity is defined by the organization, and the form it takes varies in each placement. Some examples include:

  • Creating a manual that an organization can use to expand a program which provides healthy, inexpensive lunches at cafeterias in public schools
  • Developing an app to encourage healthy eating for students
  • Creating a new curriculum for tutoring elementary students in math
  • Developing a workshop with individuals with mental illness to teach medical professionals about stigma experienced within health systems

The goal of this placement is to train our students to be the kind of physicians who understand community health first-hand through a complex lens, and who know that responding to community health goes beyond providing a diagnosis or prescribing a treatment. Throughout, students examine case studies and theories of community development, and reflect on their experiences with their peers.

The placement consists of a total of 15 half-days, and takes place between the spring of students’ first year, and goes until the spring of their second year (14.5 months).

Our partners are co-educators, and are invited to participate in a Community Partners Advisory Council which meets four times a year, and provides feedback and guidance to our course team.


Related links:

Faculty of Medicine article: Medical Students Move from Classroom to Community


For more information, and to get involved, contact:

Roxanne Wright
Community Health Placement Officer, Undergraduate Medical Education at 416.978.0952 or e-mail Roxanne