On Nov. 19, student pharmacists from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy commenced their first educational volunteer session at the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) Health Clinic. Focused on the topics of hypertension and diabetes, the session offered student volunteers an opportunity to work alongside the clinic’s attending physician and provide important health education to uninsured patients. Students also provided patient counseling services and emphasized the importance of medication adherence.
Health Education Committee: A Programmatic Initiative
Throughout this year, members of the executive board for the Muslim Students and Scholars Association (MSSA), a Universitywide organization, have worked to plan, develop, and implement four key programmatic initiatives that aim to better our provision of spiritual and social support to individuals, starting right here at University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). One of the outreach initiatives established is the Health Education Committee, which arranges health services and education for underprivileged communities and hosts health fairs for local residents. As president of the MSSA, I researched communities we could potentially partner with and came across the ISB Health Clinic, which works to promote health and wellness by providing quality services, at no cost, to people without access to basic health care. I reached out to ISB operations personnel and proposed establishing a community partnership that would involve UMB students of various disciplines collaborating with the health care professionals at the ISB Health Clinic to optimize patient care.
Working with Medical Professionals and Patients
The ISB Council – including ISB President Ed Tori, MD, and ISB physicians Shahida Siddiqui, MD, Muhammad Younus, MD, and Yahya Shaikh, MD, – reviewed our proposal, discussed with us our scope of practice as students, and approved the collaboration.
Waleed Khan, a third-year student pharmacist, and I began our educational volunteer session at the clinic. We had the honor of working under the supervision of Siddiqui to provide effective instructional sessions to patients with hypertension and/or diabetes. After patients completed their consultation appointment with Siddiqui, they visited with Waleed and me to address any specific health-related questions they might have as well as gain a better understanding of their condition. Waleed and I put our multilingual skills to use as needed to ensure that patients understood the information we provided. We also developed concise and up-to-date infographics for each condition, evaluated the extent of each patient’s health literacy as related to his or her condition, and clarified their perceptions of their disease, as appropriate.
We are planning more educational volunteer sessions for the ISB Health Clinic, which will be held during clinic hours: Mondays, 6-8 p.m.; Wednesdays, 6-8 p.m.; and Sundays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. UMB students of all health disciplines are welcome to participate in this outreach initiative, and up to two students are able to volunteer during each time slot. Before each time slot, the two students leading the session are asked to study and create infographics focused on the disease state(s)/condition(s) designated for their week.
Interdisciplinary Health Fair on Dec. 9
Additionally, Younus has invited UMB students to collaborate with ISB and the Baltimore County Muslim Council (BCMC) to put together a large interdisciplinary health fair on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This will be a great opportunity for students to volunteer with a wide range of underserved communities, practice the health screening skills that they’ve learned, and network with a multitude of health care professionals. Students interested in volunteering to assist with this event can contact Saleem Ahmad at 410-369-6590 for details.
– Ghania Naeem, third-year student pharmacist