Video: Mobile Health Van Student Volunteers Collaborate in Community Service
This summer, a University of Washington mobile health awareness van will hit the road, bringing basic health services to homeless people who may have trouble getting to a doctor.
The new van had an official ribbon cut on April 30 to celebrate the project, several years in the making, coming to fruition.
The van is equipped like a small clinic. It has a privacy curtain and examination table, a sink with hot water, a blood pressure cuff, and shelves of wound care supplies, disinfectant for patients. hands, wipes and snacks. It has a solar panel for extra electricity and a canopy for extra protection from the elements. More importantly, it’s on wheels, fulfilling a mission of meeting people where they are to meet their healthcare needs.
Various student outreach groups will use the van several times a month, coordinated by volunteer health science students like Nina Cook, a graduate student from the School of Social Work. On a warm May evening, she was part of a team of volunteers assembled by University District Street Medicine in a U-District parking lot; among them, a medical student, a nursing student, and a “preceptor” – in this case, a registered nurse with years of experience providing counseling.
As people approached the van, the students explained the services they could offer, from examining a skin condition to checking blood pressure. Referrals were given for medical services that could not be provided on site, and volunteers spoke with people about the issues and challenges of staying healthy while living on the streets. Visitors could choose hygiene supplies, water and snacks to take with them.
In fact, obtaining the van is the culmination of years of work by an interdisciplinary group of students, faculty and staff from all of UW’s health sciences units. The project is part of an effort to provide students with a real-life experience serving a community in need of help.
A second objective is to foster a collaborative approach to health care with students from various disciplines in the health sciences. The outreach teams bring together students in nursing, public health, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physiotherapy and social work. Volunteers learn from each other and from each other, working side by side while chatting with patients, in the same way they will work together in their future careers.
“When working in interprofessional community-based teams, students are able to practice teamwork in a unique and sometimes even unparalleled way, even during clinical rotations,” said Tracy Brazg, Director of the UW Health Sciences Interprofessional Education Initiative.
Cook said working with students from other disciplines has helped her feel able to look at the needs of patients more broadly. “It was really a highlight for me, being able to plunge my toe into this interprofessional world,” she said.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to see what we can do in the future,” said Leonora Clarke, UW School of Medicine service learning program manager and key organizer. of the minivan project. She hopes they will one day be able to provide more robust clinical care, such as vaccinations.
Tagged with: Leonora Clarke, population health, Tracy Brazg, UW Health Sciences Interprofessional Education Program, UW School of Medicine Service Learning