Health Professions Students Collaborate to Bring Flu Shots into the Community
Last week marked the start of the 2nd annual Michigan Community and Interprofessional Practice Training (M-CIPT) community flu clinic series. M-CIPT is a collaboration between the School of Nursing, College of Pharmacy (COP), and School of Public Health in partnership with University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) Community Programs and Services. This year’s flu clinic series kicked off at Community Action Network’s Bryant Community Center.
M-CIPT was launched in fall 2013, with initial support from the Michigan Campus Compact Venture Grant. The project brings students together from three health disciplines to promote the flu shot, provide immunizations, and educate patients in low-income and isolated communities.
Last year, 70 students from the three schools delivered more than 350 free flu vaccines during eight flu clinics held in churches, community centers, and a migrant camp.
“For me, as a preceptor and immunization advocate, it was quite rewarding to provide influenza vaccines to patients who might not have a regular doctor and ensure that they are protected for the season. In addition, to allow our students an amazing opportunity to utilize their communication skills, in some cases with interpreter help, to educate and answer patient questions prior to administration of the flu shot, all while working alongside other healthcare professionals. I recall leaving the migrant camp clinic, smiling, in awe of my job and so grateful for the experience that it provided for my students,” states Dr. Heidi Diez, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Clinical Pharmacist for U-M Health System. Dr. Diez was the lead faculty member for the planning and implementation of pharmacy student involvement in the M-CIPT program.
“This is a great community outreach project, but it also represents a collaborative effort to engage students in interprofessional interactions with other health disciplines at U-M,” states Anica Madeo, Program Manager for Community Engagement and Interprofessional Education at the College of Pharmacy.
Evaluations from last year’s students indicated that they greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with students from other health professions. They also identified these opportunities as lacking in their current curricula.
“We are always being told in classes that we will have to work in interprofessional teams when we graduate,” wrote one student, “but we never get the chance to work with other disciplines while in school.”
The students indicated significant interest in interprofessional action-based learning.
“Participating as a student immunizer within the M-CIPT program was a great opportunity to get involved within the community and to collaborate with other health professional students. These volunteer experiences helped to build my confidence as an immunizing pharmacist and allowed me the opportunity to work with other health care professionals, which was previously limited during school,” states Lindsey Westerhof, PharmD’14.
“Providing free vaccines in convenient locations removes two of the major barriers to flu vaccination: transportation and lack of insurance. Meanwhile, the students learn how to address these barriers while working in a collaborative interprofessional team in a real-life setting,” states Madeo.
Before entering the community, students from the three schools attended a workshop focused on the importance of engaging diverse communities and overcoming the major barriers to influenza vaccination present among minority groups.
“The session provided student volunteers with valuable information regarding cultural competency and public health as it relates to immunizations. We also discussed misconceptions with immunizations and how to address those misconceptions with patients in the community,” states David Dadiomov, PharmD’16.
The College, along with the other U-M schools, will continue to improve the flu clinics this year, by focusing on how to administer the program more efficiently and how to ensure more intentional interprofessional interactions between the students from the three professions. As of this year, the College is now requiring that all students become trained immunizers through APhA certification offered in the P2 year. In addition, a long-term goal is to involve more preceptors.
“The more preceptors we engage, the more vaccines our students can deliver,” says Madeo.
The College’s mission includes a commitment to “excellence in education, service, and research with the ultimate goal of enhancing the health and quality of life of the people of the State of Michigan, the nation, and the international community.” Our strong culture of service can be seen in course-related service experiences, student-led extracurricular activities, and the many ways in which our students and faculty choose to volunteer their time.
“The gratitude that the patients showcased for the services we provided made the whole experience worthwhile,” ends Mr. Dadiomov.
Visit our Facebook page for more photos from the first flu clinic this year.