Every year, first-year medical students at Baylor head outside the walls of the College for Community Health Day, where they and other organizations offer much needed services. But it’s also a rich learning experience for students. This year’s Community Health Day was March 25 at Ethel Mosley Young Elementary School near the Sunnyside neighborhood.
The medical student organizers enlisted the help of Baylor student groups as well as their peers from other institutions to provide screenings and education to the local community members. Some of the student groups included:
- Latino Medical Student Association – diabetes education and glucose tests
- Internal Medicine Interest Group – blood pressure checks
- Choosing Healthy, Eating Fresh (CHEF) – nutrition information
- UH College of Optometry – eye exams
- UT School of Dentistry – oral exams
Other organizations who provided resources included Casa de Amigos, Harris Health Stroke Program and Harris Health Gold Card, the Public Health Preparedness Bureau, Houston Health Department and the Baylor Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center.
Community Health Day organizing committee members Will Porter, Shelley Fang, Joe Jackson and Iris Porter, all first-year students, discuss the impact of the event in this Q&A.
How did this event contribute to your medical training?
First and foremost, we all enjoyed learning practical skills in providing care to and educating patients about their health. Additionally, we greatly enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside members of the Texas Medical Center community, learning about other healthcare professionals and community resources that are vital to the health of community members. We also really appreciated the opportunity to face firsthand some of the huge need that exists in our backyard. It is easy to get caught up in the rigors of school, but having the chance to step back and realize that we are working hard to be able to serve our communities one day, especially those most in need, is a wonderful privilege.
What did you learn about the medical needs of the community served by the event?
Being able to walk around the community firsthand and see real signs of poverty was a very humbling experience for many of us. A number of volunteers met individuals who really wanted the care we were providing, but simply lacked access or the knowledge of what resources were available to them. Realizing that so many people could be struggling to access basic health needs in a neighborhood so close to the medical center was very eye opening and pointed to the severity of their need.
Why is this type of community project important?
This type of project is very important for both us as medical students as well as for the community. We are able to gain important exposure to the needs of the community in hopes of inspiring a desire to serve as future advocates and practitioners for those that need it most in our future communities. On the flip side, the Sunnyside community hopefully is able to gain increased access to care as well as an improved knowledge of health resources available to them. We also hope that events like this foster preventative health, learning, giving back how we can as first-year med students, community relationships, compassion, learning about community needs, and continuity with community.