Rutgers Medical School Students Lead Health Education Lectures Benefiting Newark STEPS Residents
Kintock continues to enjoy a mutually productive partnership with Rutgers Medical School that benefits Newark Stage to Enhance Parolee Success (STEPS) Program residents and medical students alike. For more than 10 years, Kintock has collaborated with Rutgers Medical Students and their supervisors to bring a host of health education lectures to our resident population.
Each semester Rutgers Medical School provides medical students that lead lectures for STEPS residents on a variety of health topics. The Rutgers Medical students come to the facility once a week for an hour for eight weeks to conduct Health Education presentations to both the male and female parole population. Approximately 10 to 12 medical students lead the mini health lectures on topics that include Exercise, Nutrition, Mental Health, Immunizations and Vaccines, Stress, and a variety of medical conditions such as Cardio Vascular Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, and Sexually Transmitted Illnesses.
“The residents enjoy the opportunity to learn about the various health topics that are discussed and are actively engaged when the medical students are present,” according to Jennifer Nielsen, Director of the STEPS program. “Residents have voiced interest in medical topics and the medical students have followed up the next week to provide the resident with requested information. In some cases, the medical students have even tailored that subsequent week’s session to provide information about a requested health topic or concern. The medical students may also concentrate on specific topics that address areas of concern with the current population,” she added.
At the completion of the 8-week series, residents receive a copy of each Powerpoint presentation along with a list of area health clinics.
“The experience has been positive for both our resident parolee population and the medical students,” noted Ms. Nielsen.
“This opportunity not only educates our resident but provides an educational experience for the medical students as well,” said Ms. Nielsen. “The medical students from Rutgers Medical School are given the opportunity to experience a different population then they would in a typical clinical setting. This affords them the opportunity to understand the diversity of people they have the opportunity to work with and how it would be to work with a difficult population. It also offers the medical students an understanding of the different type of care received while a person is incarcerated or in a hallway house.
As a health care professional the opportunity to work in a correctional setting may not be a first thought but this gives these students the opportunity to see a different setting for their career,” she added.
“I had such a rewarding experience participating with our Public Understanding of Medicine in Action (PUMA) program at Kintock. I had the chance to teach lectures both cardiovascular health and diabetes to the residents,” said Richard Woferz, a first-year student at Rutgers Medical School. [The program] allows students to adapt our classroom knowledge into lesson plans that have the potential to make a real difference in the health and well-being of an underserved population.
At Kintock, I appreciated connecting with the residents not just giving out information but sharing stories and experiences. The thing with topics of medicine and healthcare are never just the facts on the surface but carry with them personal weight: the struggles of illness and the joys of health. While our goal was to educate the residents, we wanted to open bidirectional communication by welcoming them to share their personal encounters with these health topics. This allowed questions to flow naturally and for both sides to gain from the experience.
We learned about the burden of diabetes and heart disease that the residents have faced within their families and they had a chance to comfortably bring up long-held questions regarding risks of other family members being diagnosed and how certain lifestyle habits could help prevent these conditions. Learning to present this information in this more personal and anecdotal approach kept the residents engaged and interested, because all of sudden it wasn't just another textbook lesson on insulin helps the cells take up sugar from the blood but it was now understanding why my grandmother had to take that injection before a dinner every night and why she had to have that amputation surgery,” said Mr. Woferz.
“The [experience] at Kintock, reaffirmed why I am in medical school. Medicine is not what is written in a textbook, it is about strengthening the lives of our patients,” he added.