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‘We are always shifting, we are always adaptable, that is one of the strengths of our clinic’
School of Social Work Associate Director and Professor, Dr. Jeff Karabanow, and Field Education Coordinator Cyndi Hall, are leading the Dalhousie School of Social Work Community Clinic through the third move in its seven-year history. (Photo: Bruce Bottomley)
The Dalhousie School of Social Work Community Clinic is on the move again.
At their new location in the South End, the clinic is evolving in their approach to a three-tiered philosophy: To provide a socially just, anti-oppressive delivery platform for those living in poverty and/or people who are marginalized in Halifax, to sustain a deep interprofessional hub offering care to those who are excluded from civil society, and to foster a meaningful learning/training environment for health professional students.
A clinic client explains: “The atmosphere of the clinic is very welcoming, very friendly. They make you feel like you’re a person, like they care. They made me feel validated.”
Hall and Karabanow look forward to expanding the clinic’s outreach to more non-for-profits, health teams, pharmacies, and formal medical systems. The clinic’s existing partner organizations include Lawton’s pharmacy and Harding Medical, amongst others. The clinic’s collaboration with the wider health community helps them keep up with the shifting needs of various Halifax demographics, and ensure easier client access to various health services.
The clinic’s dedication to interprofessional outreach ensures that client-service deliveries take weeks, rather than years. The clinic’s hours have increased to meet client demand, as cases rise above their previously average of 200 per year. Future additions to the clinic will include a full-time nurse practitioner and a community mental health social worker.
Karabanow explains how the clinic works “to build a democratic atmosphere of sharing and knowledge-building between disciplines” and clients alike.
The clinic equips students from Dalhousie and neighbouring universities’ programs of pharmacy, social work, occupational therapy, law, and more. The community-centred environment offers students a social justice and anti-oppression education that is rarely covered in health profession curriculums. Student feedback has been extensively positive. Amazed by student engagement, Hall and Karabanow look forward to welcoming new placements from further Dal schools, including audiology and sustainability.
The clinic's new home on Fenwick street (Photo: Bruce Bottomley)
Following 2014’s pilot donation from Dalhousie’s Innovation Fund, the clinic has been financially sustained by various donors, including university alumni and departments, community organizations, sectors of government, and more. Operating on a tight budget, the clinic is sincerely grateful for every donation.
Hall beams with excitement for the clinic’s future: “We are so young, we are only seven years old. It’s been a really wonderful experience. It shows that when you include people, and you’re collaborative, and you’re not hierarchical, people feel that level of trust in us and in themselves.”
As co-founders and Directors of the Dalhousie School of Social Work Community Clinic, Karabanow and Hall were awarded the 2019 William Webster Excellence in Interprofessional Education Award.
Cyndi Hall (BSc, BSW, MSW), is a Field Education Coordinator for the Dalhousie School of Social Work. She engages with the greater Halifax community to ensure that the clinic serves “as an important bridge, building relationships between Dalhousie University and the Halifax Community.”
Jeff Karabanow (BA, MA, PhD), has received numerous awards and honours for his research and publications on Homelessness, Housing, and Globalization, in addition to other topics. He works as a Professor and Associate Director in the School of Social Work, with cross-appointments in the College of Sustainability’s Department of International Development Studies, and the School of Health and Human Performance.
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