Written By: Ghania Naeem, Third-Year Student Pharmacist
On Nov. 19, student pharmacists from the 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. We 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 campus-wide 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 the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). One of the outreach initiatives that we established is the Health Education Committee, which seeks to arrange for health services and education for underprivileged communities and host health fairs for local residents. As president of the MSSA, I started to research communities with which we could potentially partner 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 proceeded to get in touch with their operations personnel, and proposed the idea of 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 Ed Tori, MD, president of ISB; Shahida Siddiqui, MD; Muhammad Younus, MD; and Yahya Shaikh, MD, physicians at the ISB Health Clinic, reviewed our proposal, discussed with us our scope of practice as students, and approved the collaboration.
Waleed Khan, a third-year student pharmacist at the School, and I began our educational volunteer session at the clinic. We had the honor of working under the supervision of Dr. Siddiqui to provide effective instructional sessions to patients with hypertension and/or diabetes. After patients completed their consultation appointment with Dr. 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 in order to ensure that patients understood the information that 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/her condition(s), and clarified their perceptions of their disease, as appropriate.
We are currently 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 timeframe. To help volunteers prepare for their session, 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.
Additionally, Dr. 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. – 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 who are interested in volunteering their time to assist with this event can contact Saleem Ahmad at (410) 369-6590 for more information.