• A group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings. This is the first and essential definition of community. 1
  • Community can be defined by a sense of identification with and emotional connection to others through common symbol systems, values, and norms; shared interests; and commitments to meeting mutual needs.2



Community engagement describes collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.3


Community-Engaged Learning

Community-Engaged Learning is a form of experiential learning defined as a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.4  


Cultural Competence

Cultural Competence is the ongoing process or continuous process in which the healthcare professional (HCP) continuously strives to achieve the ability and availability to work effectively within the cultural context of the client (individual, family, or community).5


Cultural Humility

Cultural humility is a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and critique, redressing power imbalance, and developing mutually beneficial and non-paternalistic partnerships with communities on behalf of individuals and defined populations.6,7


Determinants of Health

are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.8



A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not just the absence of sickness or infirmity. 9


Health Disparity

A type of difference in health that is closely linked with social or economic disadvantage. Health disparities negatively affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social or economic obstacles to health. These obstacles stem from characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion, such as race or ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, mental health, sexual orientation, or geographic location. Other characteristics include cognitive, sensory, or physical disability. 10


Health Equity

Health equity is the state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health. Achieving health equity also requires addressing social determinants of health and health disparities.11


Health Inequality

Differences, variations, and disparities in the health achievements of individuals and groups of people. 12


Health Inequity (WHO)

systematic differences in the health status of different population groups. These inequities have significant social and economic costs both to individuals and societies. 13


Health Literacy

Personal Health Literacy

the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. 14


Organizational Health Literacy 

the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. 14



Providing opportunity for diverse individuals to be part of the frameworks that provide systems and structure and be part of the decision-making process. At EVMS, it means effectively including the people affected by EVMS direction, process, or structures in the decisions that may impact them; this includes clinical care, research, medical education, and administration.15



Recognizing all human qualities in order to adjust frameworks of power and privileges.15


Initiative (or Community-Engaged Learning Initiative)

This is the unique group to which the student is assigned for community engagement. Examples are ‘Bystander CPR’ or Refugee Health.


Pathway (or Community-Engaged Learning Pathway)

We have six pathways for community engagement that address six priority community needs.


Social Determinants of Health (CDC)

the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems. 16


Structural Inequities

Structural inequity is a persistent, unfair, and avoidable condition in which one category of people is treated as inferior or unequal to other categories of people 17. Sometimes they are laws that are applied unequally, other times they are the characteristic patterns of societal behavior that devalue or dehumanize people.


Underserved or Under-resourced

This refers to people or communities who are not able to access sufficient resources. This is the preferred way to refer to people who are experiencing poverty or significant deprivation.  18



The group of people who fall under “underinsured” category may experience one of the following barriers to care: 19, 20

  • unable to afford the out-of-pocket expenses associated with the services which delays needed care or medications due to cost and heightened financial risk;
  • medicaid enrollment plan that covers the cost of services only partially (bronze – 60%, silver – 70%);
  • barriers created by poverty, cultural differences, race or ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other factors that contribute to health care inequities;
  • individuals that have limited access to healthcare as they are in a position where they are monitored, isolated, and denied access to their identification documents, such as health insurance cards;
  • seeking care of specialized healthcare providers with appropriate training.