GHSU students valuing diversity raise $1,000 for clinic

STUDENTS DONATE TO CLINIC

Brenda Griffin looks too young to be battling blood pressure and joint pain, but she is getting help for both problems at Belle Terrace Health & Wellness Center in Augusta. She lost her regular source of care when she stopped working, so the federally qualified health center is now her best source for continued care.

“They’re good people,” said Griffin, 44. “They try to see about you and make sure you’re all right before you leave.”

She also might benefit from the efforts of students at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University. Students in the Health Equity and Access Leaders program raised $1,000, which they donated Monday to the clinic with the hopes it will go toward women’s health. Janice Sherman, the chief executive officer for Belle Terrace, said that it will likely be spent on mammograms for women who can’t afford them and that she hopes radiologists will match the donation.

It is the latest real-world lesson for students yearning for more than lectures and labs before they begin their clinical training in earnest.

“We kind of live in a bubble of science books and classrooms and the hospitals that we train in clinically,” said second-year student Luke Boone. “You’re serving the community when you are treating your patients, so to know everything available, I think that is the biggest benefit for the patient.”

It would help the students, too, said second-year student Emma Fite-Wassilak..

“I felt like as a future provider – and my cohorts as future providers – would appreciate having that kind of experience and exposure beforehand instead of being thrown into third year (and dealing with it then on top of everything else),” she said.

Students approached the Office of Diversity at MCG about starting a class to get more diversity into their education, said Dr. Kimberly Vess Halbur, the associate dean for diversity affairs. In addition to talking about issues such as health disparities, the students mentor high school students and raise money.

The students used various fundraisers, but a big one was a “penny war” between the first- and second-year classes in which each class had a jar to fill, Fite-Wassilak said.

“In the end, you end up raising a surprising amount of money,” Boone said.

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