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 2016-17 Report

University of Pittsburgh Program Activities


Program Established: 1997.

Program Period: June 6 to July 29, 2016.

Students/Projects/Sites: 18 students worked on 9 projects at 9 community sites in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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

Service Days: Students provided 513 days of health-related service.

Types of Sites Served: Community organization offices, day camps, in the field/community, treatment centers (day or other), client homes, and community health centers.

Student Activities:* Planning health activities, oral health activities, research on health issues, health-related client education, development or administration of surveys, client interviews, community social activities, advocacy activities, direct service delivery, and evaluation of existing programs.

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

Community Health Issues:* Diet and nutrition, oral health, communication, exercise, poverty, access to health care, personal hygiene, child care, homelessness, and mental health.

Mentor Workshop: Prior to the start of the program, Pittsburgh held a Successful Mentoring Workshop for all new community and faculty mentors that was well attended with representatives from most community sites and all new community sites.

Didactic Sessions: The Pittsburgh curriculum included guest speakers who represented community-based program providers, researchers and individuals from underserved backgrounds. The students came together for 5.5 hours a week to participate in a curriculum that included readings and journaling and presentations on the following topics: 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; Walking Tour of Braddock; Community Violence and Homicide Review Board; Community Advocacy—Affordable Care Act and Medicaid; and Remote Area Medical Film.

Oral Health Activities: On July 13, 2016, Dr. Brian Martin, Chief of Pediatric Dental Services, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, gave a presentation on Oral Health for the Underserved. The presentation focused on both preventive care and advocacy efforts. A week earlier, all interns were required to complete an online oral health tutorial developed by School of Dentistry faculty to expose the interns to the most common oral health terms and concerns. The School of Dentistry student working with BTG provided all of the interns with oral health education resource lists and updated materials tailored to their populations. The program provided free oral health supplies (toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and denture care products as appropriate) to all program participants at 10 community sites in addition to supplies for several sites to carry into the fall.

Community Event: Pittsburgh hosted an Annual Mentor-Student Social on the evening of July 13, 2016. The gathering was hosted at a new favorite restaurant in a local underserved neighborhood. Students provided a homemade-dessert potluck as thanks to their mentors. This event was very well attended by community mentors, faculty preceptors, students and community members, and gave everyone a chance to network and socialize.

Symposium: Pittsburgh’s 20th Annual BTG Day of Presentations was held on the last day of the program, July 29, 2016. All student teams presented posters on their projects.  Three of the student teams were selected by their peers to also give oral presentations of their summer projects. This event was well attended by a variety of community and faculty mentors, students, community members and advisory board members. Two students presented the Outstanding Mentor Award to Community Preceptor Patricia Wood from Sister’s Place.

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


2016-17 University of Pittsburgh Program Participants

Program Staff and Faculty
Thistle Elias, DrPH, MPA, Program Director
Joan Harvey, MD

Academic Preceptors
Thuy Bui, MD
Sharon E. Connor, PharmD
Thistle Elias, DrPH, MPA
Mark Friedman, PhD
Rachel A. Fusco, PhD, MSW
Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD
Ann Mitchell, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FIAAN, FAAN
Tracy Soska
Martha Ann Terry, PhD

Community Preceptors
Pam Dickinson, BS 
Sarah Dittoe
Justin Forzano
Deborah Gallagher, MEd
Jessica Gumbert
Sharon Higginbotham, PhD, COO
Charonda Hill, MSOL
Jon Hoffman
Katelyn Kaczorowski, RN
Laura Kelley, MSW
Celia Kinville, MSW
Denise McGill-Delaney, MSW
Mary Parks, CSJ
Kandace Powell, MSW
Mark Taylor
Patricia Wood, MSW


2016-17 University of Pittsburgh Community Partners

For a complete alphabetical list of all 2016 BTG CHIP community partners and to view community project summaries by site, click here.

  • Bethlehem Haven
  • Braddock Youth Project
  • Center of Life
  • Community Human Services
  • COTRAIC Early Head Start
  • Gwen’s Girls
  • Heritage Community Initiatives
  • Pittsburgh Soccer in the Community
  • Sisters Place
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University of Pittsburgh
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