BTG Hope

“Bridging the Gaps … is a great vehicle of exposure and learning for the ‘providers of the future.’ For the past four summers we have hosted these students and been able to educate and mentor students from various disciplines, and our agency has benefited from their final projects. Thanks BTG.”
Sharon Jones, MS, CCDP
Clinical Supervisor
Sojourner House
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BTG CHIP 2013-14 Report

University of Pittsburgh Program Activities


Program Established: 1997.

Program Period: June 3 to July 26, 2013.

Students/Projects/Sites: 20 students worked on 10 projects at 10 community sites in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Professional Disciplines: Medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, and social work.

Service Days: Students provided 606 days of health-related service.

Types of Sites Served: Community organization offices, treatment centers, day camps, recreation centers, in the field/community, shelters, and other types of sites. 

Student Activities:* Planning health activities, participating in community social activities, researching health issues, assessing community resources, conducting health-related client education, participating in oral health activities, literacy activities, client interviews, community outreach, direct service delivery, evaluating existing programs, linking clients with health resources, and teaching living skills.

Population Demographics: Mixture of females and males; all ages; African-Americans; mixture of races/ethnicities; and primarily English speaking.

Community Health Issues:* Poverty, child care, women’s health, access to health care, diet and nutrition, oral health, exercise, cultural beliefs/practices, mental health, race/ethnicity, communication (language/literacy), homelessness, budgeting/personal finances, environmental health, personal hygiene, prenatal care, and substance abuse.

Mentor Workshop: On May 15, 2013, Pittsburgh held an orientation workshop required for all new community and faculty preceptors to introduce them to the program.

Didactic Sessions: Prior to program start, students attended an evening orientation. During the program, students came together for 8 weekly sessions (approximately 5.5 hours per week). Topics included the following: Inequalities Within Women’s Health; The Problem Isn’t Homelessness, It’s Lack of Housing!; Experiential Poverty Exercise; EHS Parent Perspectives on Meeting the Needs of Children; Oral Health for the Underserved; Health Literacy, Prevention Point Pittsburgh—Needle Exchange; East Liberty—Stories Over Time; PACE/PACENET Programs. Guest speakers included community-based program providers, academic faculty and individuals from underserved backgrounds.

Oral Health Activities: BTG students attended "Oral Health for the Underserved" a presentation that offered information about the oral health needs in the community. A week earlier, all interns were required to complete an online oral health tutorial developed by School of Dentistry faculty to give them basic knowledge related to the most common oral health terms and concerns. Two non-BTG students (dental and public health) provided oral health resources and materials that were designed to meet the needs of the partnering sites and their clients. Pittsburgh projects incorporated oral health activities.

80% of Pittsburgh’s sites engaged in oral health activities, According to student estimates, 136 children (aged 13 and under), 64 youth/young adults (aged 14 to 20) and 159 adults received oral health education.

Community Event: Pittsburgh’s annual social was held on July 10, 2013, at the home of a longtime advisory board member and faculty mentor.  Community mentors, faculty preceptors, students and community members attended the event which offered program participants an opportunity to network and interact with each other in a social setting.

Symposium: Pittsburgh’s 17th Annual BTG Day of Presentations was held on July 26, 2013. Three peer-selected student teams gave oral presentations on their summer projects, and all student teams exhibited posters on their projects to an audience of community and faculty mentors, students, community members and members of the advisory board.

*The information provided here reflects only those categories reported by 40% or more of students participating at this BTG program location.


2013-14 University of Pittsburgh Program Participants

Program Staff
Thistle Elias, DrPH, MPA, Program Director
Jessica Burns
Joan Harvey, MD
Summer Rae Haston

Academic Preceptors
Emma Barinas-Mitchel, PhD, MPH
Sharon Connor, PharmD
Mark Friedman, PhD, MSW, MPA
Rachel Fusco, PhD, MSW
Elizabeth Miller, MD
Ann Mitchell, PhD, RN
Jonathan Pletcher, MD
Tracy Soska, MSW, LSW
Martha Ann Terry, PhD
Tammy Thomas, PhD, MSW

Community Preceptors
Dina Ciabattoni, MSW
Megan Flanagan
Deborah Gallagher
Sharon Higginbothan
Sharon Jones, MS
Lynn Knezevich
Denise McGill
Kirsten Raglin
Jessica Schmid
Lyndsey Sickler
Trevor Smith


2013-14 University of Pittsburgh Community Partners

For a complete alphabetical list of all 2013 BTG CHIP community partners and to view community project summaries by site, click here.

  • Braddock Youth Project
  • Community Human Services
  • Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center, Early Head Start Program
  • Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC), Hilltop Community Children's Center
  • Gay and Lesbian Community Center – SAY Youth Collaborative
  • Gwen's Girls
  • Hazelwood YMCA
  • McKeesport YMCA
  • Sojourner House
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“With the aid of my amazing community mentor, I was able to ... have a much better understanding of the intersection of poverty, mental health, poor access to services and the housing crisis. I have also gained an intimate understanding of the process of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.”
Breanna Jay
University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work
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