MGH Institute Students Help Out in Charlestown

Nursing student Sophia Nedelman focused intently on examining a young girl and her friend. Then, the girl asked if she could examine her friend herself, so the MGH Institute of Health Professions student handed over her stethoscope. A moment later, the girl pronounced her teddy bear was in perfect health.

Welcome to Community IMPACT Day, the MGH Institute’s annual event in which students spend a morning volunteering with local non-profits in Charlestown and other Boston neighborhoods. More importantly for their education, it is when the more than 580 first-year students receive their initial exposure to interprofessional education—a collaborative learning method in which students learn with, from, and about one another.

“I’ve already had a clinical, but this was a chance to learn more about what other students do,” said Nedelman, who was part of a team of students who were stationed at the popular Teddy Bear Clinic, working with young children who had brought their dolls and stuffed animals for a “checkup.” “You can’t solve all of a patient’s issues, so you need to understand when they need assistance from someone in another field.”

Throughout their first year, students will participate as interprofessional teams in the Institute’s innovative IMPACT Practice curriculum. They will participate in community, clinical, and simulated experiences to reinforce how working together in teams provides better patient care, which leads to improved outcomes.

Each of the 60 teams included a first-year student from each of the Institute’s prelicensure programs – Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master of Physician Assistant Studies, and Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. Each team was accompanied by a faculty or staff member, increasing the total number of participants to 650.

The event, now in its seventh year, is the culmination of a year-long planning process in which faculty and staff from the school’s multiple academic programs work together to develop and implement a complex web of people, service activities, community partner organizations, supplies, and transportation that fosters goodwill and nurtures the relationships with these community partners.

A majority of the teams helped at locations that were a short walk away from the Institute’s Charlestown Navy Yard campus. Tasks by students in these teams included cleaning, gardening and/or painting at: the Boys and Girls Club of Charlestown, First Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, St. Catherine’s/St. Mary’s of Sienna Parish, the Navy Yard’s National Park area, Harvest on the Vine Food Pantry, Boston Centers for Youth and Families’ Charlestown Community Center, Doherty Park, Clougherty Pool, the Constitution Inn YMCA, MGH Charlestown Health Center, and on several streets in conjunction with the  office of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Other activities in Charlestown included reading to youngsters at the Charlestown Public Library; helping residents at the Denis McLaughlin House, Ferrin Street apartments, and Zelma Lacey House make fleece blankets; scrubbing boats at Courageous Sailing; preparing a meal at the Ronald McDonald House; playing bingo with seniors at the Golden Ages Center; painting bird houses at Harvard-Kent Elementary School; bringing therapy dogs to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital; reading with kids at Good Shepherd School; and playing outdoor games with youngsters from Children’s Quarters and Captain’s Quarters.

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