These stories are from Bishop’s Alumni Magazine, edition No. 58 Fall 2022.

For decades, residents of the small towns and villages of the Eastern Townships have scrambled to find health professionals and family doctors. The ever-crowded emergency rooms or medical clinics have been the less-than-satisfactory go-to options. Recognizing this need, the Centre de santé de la Valleé Massawippi (CSVM) opened as a co-operative health centre in Ayer’s Cliff in April 2015 to give residents of the area access to doctors and nurses for primary care.

With preventative health care at its core, the CSVM opened its Wellness Centre in November 2019. The pandemic precipitated the need for a marketing plan and a pricing strategy, for both the health centre and the newly created illness-prevention centre. Enter the Bishop’s University Williams School of Business.

Dian Cohen DCL ’10, the driving force behind the Massawippi Valley Health Centre, contacted Reena Atanasiadis, Dean of the Williams School of Business to see if the School of Business could help. A mutually beneficial partnership quickly took shape as an experiential learning opportunity on campus.

Senior students in all concentrations of the Business program were invited to collaborate with the CSVM to create a report on the centre, including a history of health services in the Massawippi Valley, an analysis of the region, a description of the CSVM, and finally a series of recommendations to enhance the Wellness Centre’s program offerings, pricing of services and online and offline marketing strategies.

Over the course of six weeks, the students met with Cohen and Judy Hopps BA’69, a member of the Foundation Board that helps fund the health centre, to present their research and receive feedback. The incremental and collaborative process ensured the work being done was productive; it allowed the students to fine-tune their reports based on feedback from the clients. Hopps says, “the time spent with students provided them guidance throughout the consultations and allowed the Health Centre to offer input as to their priorities.”

The partnership proved to be such a success that the Foundation again solicited Bishop’s when it wanted to know how much of an economic impact the existence of this small rural facility had on the area. This time, Dean Atanasiadis put them in touch with the Economics Department. The Chair of the department, Dr. Marianne Vigneault selected a team to work independently with Hopps and Cohen for more than six weeks and then to present their report. Cohen commented: “This was a partnership made in heaven. We needed to know if we were having any impact in the community and where the gaps were. The Bishop’s students worked through the techniques to find the answers. The data they developed and reported on continues to be extremely valuable as the Centre grows and becomes even more visible.”

Experiential learning opportunities equate to Bishop’s strengths. Experiential learning shifts the learning design from being teacher-centred to one that is less structured and requires students to cooperate and learn from one another through direct experiences tied to real world problems. Hugh Godman ‘21, one of the Economic Impact team members recalled: “Working on the Massawippi Valley Health Centre project gave me a glimpse of what empirical research looks like. Our team

gauged the benefit of the heath centre as perceived by a variety of stakeholders. It was satisfying to work on a project that could offer useful insights to an organization.”

The local community offers Bishop’s students the opportunity to connect the material are studying to real businesses in the real world. Says Hopps, “This is a fabulous way to give students the opportunity to take the initiative, make decisions and be accountable for the results. I hope more non-profits in the area explore the opportunity to partner with Bishop’s through experiential learning. Turning to the University with projects of interest can produce stellar results and provides great benefit to students, partner organizations, and the community alike.”

Click here to read the full Alumni Magazine from Fall 2022.

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