UNE Provides Social Determinants of Health training in Bangor as part of a five-year $2.5 million Federal Grant to Improve Rural Health Care in Maine

Bangor area UNE graduate students from medical, pharmacy, and physician assistant programs attend a Social Determinants of Health training as part of a 5 year grant to improve primary care education.

Bangor area UNE graduate students from medical, pharmacy, and physician assistant programs attend a Social Determinants of Health training as part of a 5 year grant to improve primary care education.

In July of 2016 the University of New England’s (UNE) Center for Excellence in Health Innovation was awarded a five-year, $2.5 million federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to partner with Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC) to transform the primary care workforce in rural and underserved Maine and improve health outcomes. As part of the HRSA PCTE grant PCHC clinical preceptors and UNE students in the Bangor area attend a series of five training sessions. The trainings will cover interprofessional education, social determinants of health, oral health for primary care, health literacy, and shared decision making with patients. Each session is designed to provide students an opportunity to train together, learn the skills needed for exemplary interprofessional, and team based care.

On November 30th, the second student training session was held on the social determinates of health, presented by UNE faculty member and epidemiologist Jennifer Gunderman, MPH. “The training was aimed at creating an awareness in students that they have a critical role in addressing the social determinants of health in the population in which they serve”, explained Jennifer. “We cannot expect better health outcomes unless we get to the root of health issues such as income, education, housing, access to a healthy environment, etc.”

The training hosted students from several disciplines, “The UNE Clinical IPE training on social determinants of health was really educational and fostered great discussion among the PA, COM and Pharmacy students” said Morgan Harper UNE COP student. “The main points that I took away from this training were ways to assess patients based on their social determinants of health (income level, education, housing status, etc.) and where or who to connect them with once a need is identified. These are skills I will be bringing with me into my future clinical rotations and clinical career as a pharmacist.”

Future HRSA PCTE trainings will combine both students and preceptors. The next HRSA PCTE training scheduled in February will be led by UNE’s Dr. Timothy Martinez who will discuss oral health.


Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC), with nearly 70,000 patients, is Maine’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center. It has nine primary care practices and 16 clinical service sites including a flagship clinic in Bangor, a Health Care for the Homeless clinic and shelter, a Clubhouse program for those recovering from mental illness, a geriatric practice serving long-term care facilities, a 340B pharmacy, and other practices ranging from Jackman to Belfast, Maine. Providing care for one-third of all Mainers served by federally-funded community health centers, PCHC is also a Teaching Health Center with Level 3 NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home designation. Located in Bangor, its service area is over 8,500 square miles, spanning Penobscot, Somerset, and Waldo counties, which include some of the poorest and most rural areas of Maine – a population of 135,000. 82% of PCHC’s service area is designated as rural or frontier. For more information, visit http://pchc.com/

The University of New England is Maine’s largest private university, an innovative educational community with two distinctive coastal Maine campuses, a vibrant new campus in Tangier, Morocco, and a robust offering of degree and certificate programs online. UNE is home to Maine’s only medical and dental schools—part of a comprehensive health education mission built on a pioneering interprofessional approach that includes pharmacy, nursing and an array of allied health professions.

FMI: Contact Dora Anne Mills, M.D., UNE’s Vice President for Clinical Affairs and the Principal Investigator at dmills2@une.edu or Melanie Caldwell Project Coordinator at PCTE_Info@une.edu.

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