MGH Institute of Health Professions Students help in Community

Doctor of Physical Therapy student Evie Chodock and Bachelor of Science in Nursing student Rita Hatzis were working intently with a little girl who was holding her Teddy Bear. It seems the girl’s bear had a scratch, and a band-aid would solve the emergency. Once the boo-boo was patched up and the girl’s concern was solved, up stepped another youngster with a doll in need of a checkup. Several other boys and girls were doing the same with other MGH Institute of Health Professions students on the morning of September 13.

Welcome to Community IMPACT Day, the MGH Institute’s annual event in which students spend a morning volunteering with more than 50 Boston-area nonprofits. More importantly for their education, it is when the more than 600 first-year students received their initial exposure to interprofessional education—a collaborative learning method in which students learn with, from, and about one another.

“It was one of the main differentiating points and the main reason I chose the IHP,” said Chodock as she took a quick break from assisting the children in the graduate school’s nursing lab, “because no other school stressed the importance of interprofessional education. We all need to know what other health professionals do and how to collaborate with them when we’re working with patients.”

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

The 64 teams that spread throughout Charlestown and Greater Boston for the morning activity included first-year students from each of the Institute’s direct-entry programs (people with at least a bachelor’s degree who are pursuing a new career) – Master of Science in Genetic Counseling, 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. After students participated in a team-building exercise to start things off, each team moved on to their respective location, accompanied by a faculty or staff member, increasing the total number of participants to more than 650.

The event, now in its eighth year, is the culmination of a yearlong planning process in which faculty and staff from the school’s academic programs work together to develop and orchestrate a day involving people, service activities, community partner organizations, supplies, and transportation to foster goodwill with many of the IHP’s community partners.

Many 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: Boston Centers for Youth and Families’ Charlestown Community Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Charlestown, First Church, Harvest on Vine Food Pantry, MGH Charlestown HealthCare Center, the Navy Yard’s National Park, St. Catherine’s/St. Mary’s of Sienna Parish, St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Warren Prescott Elementary School, and on several streets in the town in collaboration with the office of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Nine teams, comprising more than 50 graduate students, went to the Harvard-Kent Elementary School, with which the IHP has forged a close collaboration over the past several years. Activities with the pupils included painting rocks, making and painting bird houses, playing educational Jeopardy, participating in a physical education bootcamp, talking about the STEM careers, discussing the impact of global warming, and talking about community health issues.

Other activities in Charlestown included working with youth project teams at the Appalachian Mountain Club, reading to youngsters at the Charlestown Public Library, playing outdoor games with youngsters from Children’s Quarters and Captain’s Quarters, scrubbing boats at Courageous Sailing, helping residents at the Dennis McLaughlin House, teaching healthy eating at the Ferrin Street apartments, working on crafts with seniors at the Kennedy Center, preparing a meal for families at the Ronald McDonald House, bringing therapy dogs to patients at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and making fleece blankets with senior residents of the Zelma Lacey House.

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