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Spring of 2017, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine’s student-run free clinic, the Rowan Community Health Center, launched an outreach initiative named the Unity Project. This is an ongoing initiative aimed at fostering relationships with Camden, New Jersey organizations to both educate community members about our clinic services and collaborate on improving Camden’s health. The objective of the Unity Project is to work towards affecting long-term change by forming authentic and impactful relationships with organizations that are already participating in meaningful community work. In order to achieve such a goal, we needed to overcome the traditional model of medical school outreach, which we feel is often short-term and limited. When reaching out to potential community partners, we realized an absence in the crucial first steps of establishing a relationship. We filled this void by simply asking what the organization’s need is. Thus, moving forward, when the Unity Project contacted organizations, we asked how we could help rather than offer suggestions. We termed this method the ‘Ask First’ approach and to this date, we have been observing a successful outcome. We are currently partnered with 38 organizations and are continually growing. The Unity Project has provided a variety of services that ultimately benefit the target populations these organizations are serving. Collaborating with our membered organizations in this way enables us to establish a trusting relationship and work towards bridging the gap between a community in need and a medical organization willing to help by asking a simple, albeit, powerful question.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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