Public Health Project Group Receives Proclamation from Burlington Mayor Weinberger
- By Jennifer Nachbur
Though less than two years into their medical school training, students in the University of Vermont College of Medicine’s Class of 2015 are already making an impact on the health of Vermonters through their public health projects. Following a January 23 Poster Session and Celebration event featuring the students’ 16 projects, one group found out just how highly their community efforts are regarded.
Working with Karen Vastine of the Community Justice Center, a program of the City of Burlington’s Community & Economic Development Office, one of the 16 UVM College of Medicine public health project groups completed a project titled “Establishing a Continuum of Care to Improve Follow-Up Rates for Survivors of Sexual Assault.” The group’s objective was to identify barriers for survivors to follow-up care after a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exam.
The medical students, including Medhavi Bole, Jonathan Ellis, Whitney Hine, Job Larson, Darrell Nettlow, Joshua Price, and Kathleen Root, conducted a literature review that focused on SANE data, particularly rates and methods of follow-up for survivors seen in the Fletcher Allen Health Care Emergency Department (ED). They also designed and administered interviews with 13 community workers from seven regional organizations. The students’ research determined that “the SANE program is effective and highly valued.” Their results also showed that local providers would prefer that SANEs make all follow-up calls. The group recommended that “local organizations increase inter-collaboration and public outreach to enhance the visibility of resources available to survivors and allocate more resources to the SANEs so that they can contact and assist more survivors with follow-up appointments prior to ED discharge.”
On January 28, 2013, the students presented their project findings to the City of Burlington’s Health Care Sub-Committee, which was attended by Mayor Miro Weinberger. At the end, the students received a special surprise: Mayor Weinberger read a proclamation as a thank you for their work and service toward the safety of Burlington.
The faculty advisor on the project was Jan Gallant, M.D., UVM associate dean for admissions and associate professor of radiology and pediatrics.
“What our students did embodies the heart of public health and the goal of our projects – to discover evidence-based and practical ways to improve health in our community,” says Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for public health and course director for the Public Health Projects. “From this project, specific steps can be taken that will result in better care for survivors of sexual assault.”
Through collaboration with the United Way of Chittenden County, each spring, first-year UVM medical students meet with Burlington, Vt. area agencies to identify partnerships for public health projects to address a need in the community. The projects are conducted during the fall of the second year of medical school and often, the information gathered through these projects leads to sustainable programs and even legislative action. Several student groups have been accepted to present their project findings at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting.