FMIG Community Service Ideas

The following programs and events were selected from FMIG Program of Excellence Award applications. Browse the list to get ideas and inspiration for your FMIG. Each entry shows the level of effort that went into the program/event, how many students participated, and a detailed description in the students' own words.

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Baby Beeper

FMIG: Oregon Health and Science University

What it took to organize: N/A

Number of students who attended/participated: 5

Details: Five FMIG students participated in our baby beeper program and attended deliveries with FM residents and faculty. The baby beeper provides students with the opportunity to connect with a pregnant woman from the community and participate with her in longitudinal prenatal care. At the end of her pregnancy, the student is present with the mother for the labor and delivery process and to welcome the newborn into the world.

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Cuddle Club/Lactation Education

FMIG: Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

What it took to organize: 1 Cuddle Club chair, 90 hours

Number of students who attended/participated: 88

Details: The Cuddle Club was created by two Keck Medical students in the spring of 2012. Soon after its inception, Keck’s FMIG program, under the guidance of Dr. Reilly, established the Cuddle Club as a permanent program at LAC+USC County Hospital. With a commitment to showcase the full spectrum of family medicine through well-organized unique “Cradle to Grave” service programs, FMIG established a permanent Cuddle Club Chair position.

As part of the Cuddle Club, students work primarily with “boarder babies” in the NICU, infants whose mothers are unable to care for them due to illnesses or drug/alcohol addictions. Often, many of the infants themselves are being treated for maternal addictions and their early days of life can be quite distressing. Adequate human contact is central to their development and sometimes those needs are not fully met. The Cuddle Club students assist the hospital care team in feeding, holding, and comforting these newborns. For babies who are expected to remain in the nursery for an extended period of time, students are assigned to come in regularly to play with the babies and asses their development milestones. The Cuddle Club students play a role that is extremely formative to the well-being of the infants long after the infant’s hospital stay. In term, the medical students benefit by becoming more comfortable with the patient population and learning about the challenges and special care the newborns need.

In order to participate in the Cuddle Club, volunteers must attend a mandatory training. The training session is led by the Cuddle Club Chair at the beginning of the academic year and includes a power-point presentation, an information video regarding neonatal care, and a Q&A with a NICU and Nursery nurse. Once the training and tour are complete, students can volunteer in the NICU at any time. Participation is tracked via a sign-in sheet in the NICU. Time commitment depends solely on students’ availability.  

Last year, Cuddle Club introduced the Lactation Education program and gauged interest at an initial training. This year, this was expanded upon with the implementation of a pilot program. The program consisted of 8 medical students, the Lactation Education club advisor, and the Lactation Education nurse from LAC+USC County Hospital. The basis of the program was to train medical students to act as lactation consultants to new mothers in the maternity ward at LAC+USC. The eight students involved attended two trainings that were held on campus. The focus of the first training was to learn about the 10 most common concerns from newly breastfeeding moms, and how these concerns can be addressed. The second training was a more hands on session with breast and newborn models to teach practical aspects of breast feeding positions that are most comfortable and efficient for both mom and baby. After attending both of these trainings, volunteers were able to serve as lactation consultants at LAC+USC County Hospital. This involved going to the hospital in the evenings for a couple hours to help the nursing staff answer breastfeeding moms’ questions, address their concerns and anxieties regarding breastfeeding, and to provide the encouragement that is often needed so that moms continued to breastfeed.

The purpose of this new addition is to allow Cuddle Club to become more involved in patient education; students serve as educators to patients and are able to get accustomed to the interpersonal skills they will need, especially in a career in primary care. It is our hope that students will be able to use this information to be better advocates during their clinical years.

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Homelessness Awareness Week

FMIG: Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

What it took to organize: 7 students, 80 hours

Number of students who attended/participated: 20-60 at each event

Details: The goal of Homelessness Awareness Week (HAW) was to bring together professionals from various fields to share their knowledge about homelessness and homeless health. HAW also aimed to increase awareness and understanding among medical students so that we can better provide care to our homeless patients and serve as advocates for their health. FMIG was directly involved with planning, advertising, and executing the events.
 
Event 1. Policy Update of Homelessness in LA: In this presentation given by UCLA Emeritus Professor of Law Gary Blasi, students learned about the development of policy around homelessness in Los Angeles.

Event 2. Experiences of Mental Health and Mental Health Service Provision Among the Homeless Population: This event discussed disparities in mental illness among the homeless population, experiences of living on the streets and trying to maintain mental health, and provision of mental health services to homeless patients. Attending guests included Dr. Benjamin Henwood from USC School of Social Work, Lori Kizzia from Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, Araceli Patino from the Downtown Women's Center, and Psychiatric Social Worker Kelly Garcia from LAC+USC.

Event 3. Clinical Perspectives on Health Care for Homeless Patients: Students learned about the experience of providing health care to homeless patients and the challenges in doing so, as well as health disparities among the homeless population. Attending guests included internal medicine physician Dr. Paul Gregerson from JWCH, family medicine physician Dr. Susan Partovi from the STAR Clinic, and pharmacist Dr. Naomi Florea from USC School of Pharmacy.

Event 4. Housing is Health: The following guests discussed how a lack of stable housing contributes to morbidity among homeless people and described different types of housing services that are available for homeless individuals: social worker Gina Jones from LA Christian Health Center, social worker Alicia Squalls from LAC+USC, and Mike Alvidrez who is the Executive Director of Skid Row Housing Trust.

Event 5. Community Advocacy Around Issues of Homelessness: A panel of individuals from journalism, law enforcement, and medicine shared their experiences and discussed how medical students can best advocate for and promote the health and well-being of homeless individuals. Our panelists included Dr. Jehni Robinson from Keck SOM Department of Family Medicine, Officer Deon Joseph from LAPD, and Gale Holland from LA Times.

Event success was determined by verbal feedback and demonstrated that the event was well received by Keck students and faculty. Our goal for next year is to increase collaboration among student groups to address the diversity among the homeless and to build a coalition of support for homeless health and for social determinants of health more broadly. Finally, we hope to invite more homeless/formerly homeless individuals to speak with students about their experiences.

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Sports Medicine at football games at underserved high schools

FMIG: University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson

What it took to organize: 4 students, 10 hours

Number of students who attended/participated: 25

Details: This program was a collaborative effort between FMIG and the University of Arizona, Tucson Family Medicine Residency. The Resident in Charge, provided the FMIG leaders with dates and times of high school football games where the residents from the UA Residency Program would be assisting. The FMIG then posted the event on MedCats—an online network for UA medical students—as a Commitment to Underserved Populations event. From there, students could sign up for volunteer shifts with Family Medicine Resident Physicians.

Students signed up to volunteer with a Family Medicine Resident Physician and athletic trainer at high school football games to provide medical aid to football athletes from underserved high schools in Tucson. Medical students volunteered at 25 football games at the following underserved high schools: Amphitheater High School, Desert View High School, Rincon High School, Santa Rita High School, Cholla High School, and Empire High School. A total of 25 students (including all four years of current U of A Medical students) participated at the 25 football games, each serving 3 hours with the family medicine resident working that game.

Each student worked with a Family Medicine Resident Physician and an athletic trainer. This allowed medical students to see the dynamic team environment that sports medicine physicians work in. It also exposed students to family medicine and family physicians. Medical students observed and helped the athletic trainer and resident physicians work together to triage, evaluate, and treat injuries sustained during play. This program exposed and promoted the scope and diversity of family medicine. The feedback was extremely positive, with many students excited and proactive in requesting to help and to participate at more family medicine events.

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Tar Wars

FMIG: University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

What it took to organize: 2 students, 20 hours

Number of students who attended/participated: 10

Details: One way that our members serve the community is through our long-standing Tar Wars Program. Goals for this initiative include:
1. Giving our FMIG members a chance to interact with young people, specifically 5th and 6th graders, and an opportunity to practice their skills as health educators.
2. Provide a supportive learning opportunity for children to better understand their bodies and consequences of decisions, specifically smoking, on their health.
3. Decrease future smoking rates in the community by reaching children before they start smoking.

This program serves to educate upper elementary students about the hazards of tobacco use and highlights both the negative consequences and reasons why people choose to smoke. This program focuses on the immediate, short-term negative effects of tobacco, which has been proven to be more effective with young, concrete learners than discussing long-term smoking effects. Topics of discussion include the negative effects of: bad breath, decreased endurance, and having less money available to purchase other things. Students are also taught about the dangers of newer forms of nicotine use including e-cigarettes and hookah. Students participate in activities to see how much smoking can cost as well as a “breathing through a straw” exercise to demonstrate the physical effects of long-term smoking and emphysema.

FMIG Leader Roles and Program Execution
Each year our Community Outreach Chairs work with local elementary school teachers to present the AAFP-endorsed anti-tobacco program to 5th graders during the months of October-April. This year we had about 15 volunteers serve 12 schools in the greater Iowa City/Coralville area. Our chapter is heavily committed to the Tar Wars program, and it is highly valued by our FMIG members as shown by the continued dedication of many of our presenters throughout their entire medical education.

Improvements
A consistent issue through the years is finding time to provide training for all the presenters and recruiting enough presenters to go to all of the schools. This year more training session opportunities were offered as well as additional one on one or small group training sessions to meet the needs of our members and to make it easier for more people to participate.