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Special emphasis should be placed on the role health professionals usually play and how that is different from working in communities. We have learned from years of community outreach that health professionals must learn to listen and respect the wisdom of the community. They must build trust with the community if they are to succeed in supporting the growth of healthy communities in diverse populations.

Students should also understand the interplay of the environment and health of the community. Environmental threats may be found in industrial pollution of the air and water; substandard housing with lead paint and decaying pipes; piles of garbage and rubble housing rodents and insects that carry disease; and in the modern pollution of drugs, sound, and violence.

“The health of community is a shared responsibility of many entities. Within this context, specific entities should identify, and be held accountable for actions they can take to contribute toward the community’s health.”

Michael A. Stoto, 1997