University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Medical Student Education

Student Projects Recognized at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting

(from left) Richard Tan, Elisabeth Kispert, Autumn Polidor, Jocelyn Hu, and Matthew Saia
American Public Health Association Student Abstract Award winners (from left) Richard Tan, Elisabeth Kispert, Autumn Polidor, Jocelyn Hu, and Matthew Saia, all from the College of Medicine Class of 2014. (Photo courtesy Richard Tan)

A total of nine University of Vermont College of Medicine Class of 2014 Public Health Project abstracts were accepted for presentation at the American Public Health Association (APHA) 140th Annual Meeting and Exhibition in San Francisco, Calif. One of the poster abstracts also received the APHA Section on Community Health Planning and Policy Development (CHPPD) Student Abstract Award at a special reception held in conjunction with the meeting on October 28, 2012.

Conducted during the second year of medical school, the Public Health Project is a required course in UVM College of Medicine’s Vermont Integrated Curriculum. Implemented in 2004, the course aims to train students to apply the principles and science of public health to improve the health of the community.

The CHPPD Student Abstract Award recognized the Public Health Project abstract titled “Depression in the Elderly: Attitudes of Seniors and Practices of Health Care Providers.” Working with Cathedral Square Corporation, the project’s goal was to investigate depression in the elderly – a well-documented but under-reported issue targeted by coordinators of the Cathedral Square Support & Services at Home (SASH) program – from the perspective of seniors and local primary care providers who serve this population. The students used two separate survey tools to assess these two perspectives. Based on their surveys’ findings, the group made several recommendations, including the following: support groups for seniors to discuss depression; a hotline or nurse to address health concerns more promptly; and social ambassadors encouraging attendance at events.

Coauthors on the abstract include Class of 2014 medical students Jacob Azurdia, Jocelyn Hu, Elizabeth Kispert, Autumn Polidor, Matthew Saia, Matthew Thomas, and Richard Tan, as well as Molly Dugan, M.P.A., project manager at Cathedral Square, Patricia Berry, M.P.H., and Thomas Delaney, Ph.D., from the UVM Vermont Child Health Improvement Program and Department of Pediatrics, and Jan K. Carney, M.D., M.P.H., UVM associate dean for public health.

Selection for the Student Abstract Award was determined through a peer-review process of all student abstracts submitted to CHPPD for consideration of oral and/or poster presentation. Several members of the Public Health Project group, including Hu, Kispert, Polidor, Tan, and Saia, attended the award ceremony and meeting.

“Our abstract received an average score of 9.09 out of 10, making it the highest-scoring doctoral level abstract received,” says Carney. “This was the first time the Section on CHPPD ever presented this award to a group; the review committee felt this abstract reflected an important model for effective public health collaboration.”