September 25, 2015

Student-Led “Vaccine Blitz” Increases Vaccination Rates and Students’ Interest in Family Medicine

Four M-4 students joined Margaret A. Riley, M.D., assistant professor, and Barbara D. Reed, M.D., M.S.P.H., in the development, design, implementation and evaluation of vaccine-blitz at a local school-based health center.

The student-driven event was a resounding success and succeeding in increasing the all vaccine rates at the school above the state average. The students gained knowledge in taking an idea from conception to completion and how to evaluate their results for publication.

Their work “A Medical Student-Driven “Vaccine Blitz” at a School-Based Health Center as an Effective Way to Improve Adolescent Vaccination Rates” was published in Family Medicine.

To the students, the publication was exciting, but they felt the work they did to improve health and connect with patients was the most meaningful aspect of the entire project.

“It was wonderful to see this project reach publication, however, the most rewarding part of this experience was knowing that our efforts may have directly prevented a young person from contracting a life threatening illness such as hepatitis, influenza, or meningitis among others,” said M-4 student, Hamid Hussein.

Dr. Riley noted that she took played a small role in this endeavor. She stressed the leading role taken by the students, who appreciated the challenge and responsibility.

“I think the most fulfilling aspect of this project was our opportunity to take a leadership role as students.  Dr. Riley did a fantastic job of advising and guiding, while placing the bulk of the responsibility and action in our hands.  I learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to implement such a project; soliciting input from community leaders, communicating as a team, interacting with patients and families, and consolidating our efforts into an academic publication,” said M-4 student, John Snider, who plans to continue into a family medicine residency program next fall. “Projects such as this one really allow students to shift our learning from the conceptual stage to a practical environment, while simultaneously achieving a positive outcome for a school in our community.” 

Student projects like this are an important aspect of medical education. This project displayed the core values of family medicine and the breadth of opportunities available within the specialty. 

“One of the main factors that has led me to the specialty of family medicine is its focus on preventative health and health care education. The school vaccine blitz was one of my first exposures as a medical student to how these areas of medicine are brought to life in medical practice. This blitz not only served to increase vaccination rates but it helped to increase education on immunizations and reconnected students with their primary care providers,” said M-4 student, Stephanie Eldred, who also plans to continue into family medicine. “Through this event, I feel better equipped to set up a public health initiative. I am more aware of what this entails and how I can make it a part of my future as a family physician.”