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IU Northwest students put healthcare skills to work in community

‘Healthy Path’ program benefits those who use Gleason walking track

Tuesday Nov 06, 2012


On Wednesday, Oct. 17, a group of Indiana University Northwest students from the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) participated in the Healthy Path community-education event as part of CHHS’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) program. IPE brings together students from various CHHS disciplines, including the IU School of Medicine – Northwest (IUSM-NW), for team-based learning and outreach exercises that promote better understanding and communication between healthcare practitioners.

The Healthy Path program calls for students to set up “health-check” stations along the walking track at Gleason Golf Course just west of campus. Student nurses take community members’ blood pressure, check height and weight, and perform other wellness checks, while other CHHS students and even community health groups provide useful health information to passers-by.

The program gives students valuable experience working with the public and with each other, while also providing a welcome service to the many local community members who exercise at the Gleason course.

“The Interprofessional Education idea all came from the idea of healthcare errors and how they are 100 percent avoidable and are due to miscommunication of one sort or another,” said Patrick Bankston, Ph.D., Associate Dean and Director of IUSM-NW and Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “So programs like these help to educate the students about each other’s roles in the healthcare process, and they help to educate the community, too.”

Bankston said that Healthy Path is the first of several new IPE programs that are in various stages of development. CHHS held a retreat over the summer and considered assorted ideas for how to expand the program through outreach and experiential learning initiatives.

Healthy Path was the result of community-based research conducted by the students involved, according to nursing student Carlton Donnell.

“Six of us, three at a time, came out and walked the track and spoke with the people who were out here,” Donnell said. “We asked them what kinds of services and information they would like to see in a program like this. They told us, and that is what we’re offering.”

One popular request from those they surveyed was for HIV testing. On Oct. 17, workers from the non-profit AIDS awareness group The Aliveness Project participated in the Healthy Path outreach event, offering free HIV testing and information to community members.

Services and information offered might vary from month to month, according to IU Northwest Clinical Assistant Professor Karen Bertram, who is an adviser to the Healthy Path program.

Future months may include participation by Health Information Management students, for example, who will hand out commonly used health forms, such as medical history forms, and explain their use.  And, although Social Work students were not present at Gleason on Oct. 17, they did help prepare some of the information that was handed out that day, and they are expected to participate in future months.

“The response from the community so far has been very positive,” Bertram said.

Local resident Jovan Carpenter was one of those who stopped at the Healthy Pathways table for a wellness check and some information.

“I think it’s good to have them out here,” Carpenter said. “Everybody needs to have their health checked from time to time.”

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