By Alugya Suliman
This past Father’s Day weekend in June, the newly established African and Caribbean Student Association (ACSA) partnered with a local business to provide free health screenings and counseling to 60 people. Early in the semester, ACSA reached out to Dr. Agnes Beachman for a potential health fair collaboration for their members. Dr. Beachman immediately contacted them with an opportunity they could not turn down. It wasn’t until two days prior to the event that ACSA learned from one of the organization’s members and Kittian, Zonelle Harris, that the health fair was advertised on local television channels and radio broadcasts.
At 8:30 A.M. the day of the fair, the ACSA and Dr. Beachman began setting up for the fair and shortly after they began seeing their first patient under Dr. Beachman’s supervision. The students were divided into different groups and rotated through the screening stations. Students performed tests for basic point of care, blood pressure readings, body mass index measurements and blood glucose readings. Alongside ACSA, the members of the Ministry of Health provided HIV testing and offered confidential follow-ups.
For this health fair, Dr. Beachman decided to do something slightly different. She created a new station where students counseled their patients. When asked what was the motivation behind this setup, she said: “I wanted a more formal counseling station this time so that the students themselves practiced being a physician with real patients outside of the simulation labs. This motivates students because now, they get to be the doctors.”
Taneil Gibson, President of ACSA, was fond of this set up. In fact, she spent most of the time counseling patients on Saturday alongside first semester student, Venita Uzowulu.
At 12:00 PM, Vice President of the organization, Alugya Suliman, was amazed by how fast time had flown. “I was really impressed with how my peers came together as a team. I was having so much fun, I didn’t even realize it was time to pack up. Events like this definitely reaffirm my love of medicine.” Tammy Cook and Domani Grant were among the students to whom she referred.
Gibson was equally impressed with her peers. “After briefly stepping aside during the fair, I was able to notice and appreciate the passion that we as student volunteers expressed as we tirelessly worked with the patients. Moving forward, I feel that this form of outreach should be continued and enhanced however possible.”
Eboni Peoples, Treasurer of ACSA, stated “this was a rewarding practical experience for practicing community health, as I had the opportunity to ask my own questions, consult, listen to complaints, and understand the diagnosis process under the supervision of a medical professional.”
ACSA will continue to pursue community outreach opportunities in the future and would to thank Dr. Beachman, Hordsford Building Center, and all of the health fair participants for helping to make a lasting impact in the community. ACSA’s purpose is to promote a diverse environment where students learn about and contribute to healthcare through community outreach and cultural education programs and activities. Currently, the nationalities represented by the organization’s memberships include natives of: The Bahamas, St. Kitts, Barbados, Jamaica, Haiti, Sudan, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, The United States, and Canada.
Alugya Suliman is an ACSA member and a fourth-year UMHS student.
Built in the tradition of the best U.S. universities, the University of Medicine and Health Sciences focuses on individualized student attention, small class sizes and recruiting high-quality faculty. For these reasons, UMHS is quickly becoming the school of choice among Caribbean medical schools.