Local Project Showcase

Environmental Justice Work in Chicago
Sean Wrenn, REACH Grassroots Coordinator

Immediately south of the Illinois Medical District in Chicago is the vibrant community of Pilsen. Like many economically disadvantaged communities, Pilsen is challenged with environmental obstacles to adequate community health. Working with community leaders and organizers like the Pilsen Alliance, this grassroots project seeks to educate the public about these health disparities and their consequences, empower the community to move toward positive change, and to directly appeal local government to address inadequate environmental health on the streets of Chicago. Specific challenges unique to this neighborhood include the Fisk Generating Station, a coal powered plant, which produces power not sold to Illinois utilities. This “grandfathered” plant is not up to current regulation and is one of the dirtier plants in the country. Though this power is exported, the detrimental effects of the pollutants are borne by the local people. Education will play a key role in expanding support for change, and direct lobbying of political leaders like local Alderman Danny Solis. AMSA can help this movement by providing organization, press, and student energy to this community’s existing ideas. Fighting for a cleaner environment for the patients for whom we serve is an exciting albeit nontraditional way to positively augment health outcomes. ”

Making the Connections: Residency Fair in Nashville
Resham Datta, REACH Grassroots Coordinator

Healthy communities begin with accessible physicians. As a school dedicated to improving care in underserved communities, Meharry holds the integral role of creating the physicians to tackle this challenge. AMSA’s 2011 Residency Fair was organized with the goal of introducing our peers to numerous programs that could not only challenge our intellect, but also satisfy our ethical responsibility. Finally putting my grassroots skills to work, our committee discussed networking strategies and how best to apply them when recruiting sponsors. We enlisted the help of not only our peers and faculty, but also community members local physicians and alumni.

Our end product was an event that not only informed upperclassmen about their residency options, but also had activity tables where local physicians taught skills such as suturing and intubation. We had peer-led booths where underclassmen could inquire about the best places to volunteer, and Alumni-led tables which reassured us that, yes it does get easier. What started as an AMSA event had become a labor of love for the entire community.

PRIDE alliance in San Antonio
Jerry Abraham, Gender and Sexuality Grassroots Coordinator

PRIDE started as a support group for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff at the University of Texas School of Medicine in San Antonio. The organization soon established itself as a campus-wide gay-straight alliance committed to providing LGBTQ programs in education, advocacy, service, and fellowship for the South Texas Medical Center community. The organization meets regularly and hosts Bring Your Lunch with PRIDE every Monday in the school cafeteria.

PRIDE strives to empower the UT Health Science Center community through education. Over the past year, PRIDE presented recommendations and LGBTQ health resources to the School of Medicine Curriculum Committee regarding ways that the curriculum could address LGTBQ healthcare issues in a sensitive and appropriate manner. PRIDE officers are invited to speak at the Health & Human Rights course about the challenges LGBTQ patients and their families face in the healthcare setting and have also invited transgendered patients to speak about their experiences in healthcare. PRIDE has also developed a SAFE SPACE program to address issues faced by LGBTQ faculty, staff and students.

As an organization grounded in advocacy, PRIDE partnered with Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to celebrate LGBTQ History Month. The organization held a campus-wide assembly and shared stories from the civil rights movement. Outside of the classroom, PRIDE encourages active discussions about Marriage Equality and other issues of social justice on the PRIDE Facebook page.

Service is at the heart of PRIDE’s mission. In partnership with the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), the historical organization of medical students of color, PRIDE marched in the San Antonio MLK Parade, the largest MLK celebration in the United States. Together, both organizations hosted a school-wide observance of World AIDS Day.

The PRIDE Network program brings together faculty and students under a mentorship and advising program for sexual minority medical students. PRIDE is proud to be a community committed to social justice, health education, and LGBTQ support, service and fellowship at our medical school.

What’s on your plate? Food Campaign at Cornell
Raymond Chou, Community and Environmental Health Grassroots Coordinator

In the past century, there has been an epidemiological transition from infectious to chronic diseases. With the rising rates of obesity and diabetes, Cornell University’s premedical AMSA chapter hosted a project last October for Food Day and AMSA’s National Primary Care Week to promote healthy eating as a tool for prevention. Centered in the upstate New York community, Cornell is world renowned for its agricultural innovation and its commitment to the agriculture community. To continue this legacy, we presented a display debunking common misconceptions about organic and local foods at our local farmers’ market and invited the student community to a dinner discussion with Chef Cathy Holt of the Cornell Dining Eating Well program on how to prepare food that is both healthy and tasty. These efforts culminated in the presentation of a Junk Food Wall of Shame in the heart of the Cornell campus on Food Day, revealing the real nutrition facts of junk foods advertised as healthy and offering free samples and recipes of healthy snacks for the general public to try. Throughout the month, we were able to reach out to a wide audience of students, faculty, physicians, and community members and gain their support for Food Day’s goals of reducing diet-related diseases.

Primary Care and Rural Medicine in Kansas
Clara Chan, Community and Environmental Health Grassroots Coordinator

With the growing need in family medicine in rural KS and an increasing utilization of telemedicine, three presentations were organized in the National Primary Care Week in October to recruit future primary care physicians. The Kansas Medical Student Loan Info session by Melanine Lira potentially employs future primary care residents. This 4-year contract allows KUSOM students to receive loan at a lower interest rate while they are obligated to participate in a primary care residency program in rural KS after graduation; the specialties include Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, Family Care and Internal Medicine. The second event “Why we love family medicine?” is a Q and A session hosted by Dr. Delzell; he focused on his family medicine experiences and talked about what drove his decision to become a primary care physician. The last presentation by Pediatrician Dr. Nelson discussed the application of telemedicine such as video conferencing with multidiscipline teams and its connection between rural patients and urban physicians. She also discussed her work as a Pediatrician to diagnose Psychiatric disorders in children through telemedicine technique. At the end of the telemedicine presentation, students could sign up for mock interview in the KU Hospital – Telemedicine Center and learn about the usage of electronic stethoscope and electronic otoscope. The technician also explained network security and potential problems, in which a 24/7 hotline is available. All the events in National Primary Care Week allowed medical students to understand more about primary care practices and set up connections between students and physicians. I especially enjoyed the mock interview at the Telemedicine Center and was impressed by its nature as a diagnostic tool.

Getting HELP for Pain
Trina Stoneham, Medical Professionalism Grassroots Coordinator

In November, 2011, the CDC reported that prescription painkillers led to the deaths of almost 15,000 people in 2008. This is more than three times the 4,000 deaths from narcotics in 1999. I am putting together a symposium on 8/18/2012 (worth 7 CME credits). The purpose of this symposium is to help increase awareness of this problem, to encourage physicians to consider other options in the treatment and management of chronic pain, and to become aware of situations in which other options may be more appropriate and effective.