SMU Students Taking a Step in Community Involvement
Giving back to the community is one reason why Kene Ofili decided to enroll in the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) program. Other considerations also led Ofili to choose Samuel Merritt University (SMU) over other prominent health sciences schools across the country.
"I chose to come to the University because of the location, the early clinical rotation, the faculty and the community involvement," says the second-year podiatric student.
Ofili and 20 of his classmates attended the African American Health Summit 2009 and health expo, where they performed more than 40 free foot and ankle examinations. The event at the Oakland Marriott Convention Center in February was organized by the Bay Area Black United Fund, Inc. (BABUF), a nonprofit organization that addresses health issues and disparities among African Americans and other communities of color.
The team was led by Dr. Eric Stamps (DPM), assistant dean for clinical affairs and assistant professor for the Department of Medicine, California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM).
For many of the DPM students, the health and wellness expo was their first clinical volunteer experience. Since they are not yet licensed podiatrists, they must be supervised by a licensed physician when examining and treating patients. Though the students did not provide treatment at the expo, they did examine attendees with diabetes mellitus and, under supervision, formulate foot risk assessments and treatment recommendations.
Student Cindy Peng says the experience was both humbling and educational.
"We always identified ourselves as podiatry students and everyone was receptive to what we said and happy we were there volunteering."
For Ofili, it was an opportunity to brush up on his communication and teaching skills.
"I learned that the patient can really tell you a lot about their own disease or ailment. We have learned in class that it is important to listen to the patients and this was an opportunity to put that into practice."
In addition to helping the Oakland community, Dr. Stamps says it was an opportunity for him to evaluate how much his students know and a way to interact with them in a clinical setting.
"I find it rewarding to allow the students to work independently, and then provide feedback on their clinical performance. This will leave a strong, lasting impression of how they can get involved in the community and gain hands-on experience with patients," he says.
"The free health screening services was a huge draw by the community," said Bev Wilmore, spokesperson for the BABUF. "It was wonderful to have had the opportunity to offer a forum for the students of Samuel Merritt University to receive exposure in the field of their interest while giving of their time and knowledge for the day."
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), research shows that on average people spend four hours on their feet and take up to 10,000 steps daily with about 75 percent of Americans experiencing foot pain at some point in their lives.
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