Penn State College of Medicine students combine teamwork, community health

Millie Taylor is stir-frying healthier dinners and not spending a fortune on them, thanks to information she learned from Penn State College of Medicine students at monthly health fairs that she doesn’t even have to leave home to attend.

“They taught me how to eat healthy on a limited budget and all kinds of other things, too,” the resident of Hershey Plaza Apartments said. “It’s a wonderful thing they’re doing. A lot of our neighbors here don’t get to the doctor or the dentist on a regular basis.”

Over the past three years, the College of Medicine’s Interprofessional Student Organization (IPSO) has facilitated 21 health fairs at the senior apartment complex that combine multidisciplinary learning with community health service.

Students from all disciplines—including the physician assistant program, nursing, medical, pharmacy, physical therapy and nutrition—plan and carry out the health fairs around themes such as diabetes and cardiovascular risk, medication safety and bone density evaluations.

“Often people who can’t afford to pay or who aren’t able to get to a doctor’s office are forgotten,” said Catherine Kubat, a senior nursing student involved in February’s fair. “It’s important to bring help to them, and being part of this program makes it a priority for us as we begin our health careers.”

“The initial goal of our program was to get students interacting and learning from each other about their training. Prior to this, we rarely had, for example, nursing students interacting with medical students,” explained Kelly Karpa, assistant dean for interprofessional education and faculty advisor for the student organization.

“When we get jobs and start practicing medicine, we’ll be interacting with all disciplines, and the experiences we’ve had here in IPSO should really help us,” said Paul Hong, a first-year medical student and co-leader of the health fair.

Learn more about the fair – and what both the seniors and medical students get out of it – in this Penn State Medicine article.

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Last Updated May 02, 2018