The projects — one to foster health literacy in historically marginalized communities, the other to incorporate environmental health into medical training — were finalists for an Inauguration Poster Session Award
A pair of medical student-led projects — one to foster health literacy in historically marginalized communities, the other to incorporate environmental health into medical training — were honored as part of a poster contest during inauguration festivities for new University of Michigan President Santa J. Ono.
The teams were named finalists for an Inauguration Poster Session Award, which honored groups for project ideas in two areas: “examining the intersection of race and the identity of U-M, while incorporating aspects of the past, present, and future,” and “working together to tackle the climate crisis.”
An all-M1 team of Noah Carey, Brandon Lu and Ailish Dougherty proposed the project, “Building Resilience: Fostering Health Literacy in Historically Marginalized Communities.” A mostly M1 team of Amy Zhao, Maya Almoussa, Melanie Stewart, Andrea McGowan, and M3 students Jacqueline Lewy and Payge Barnard proposed the project, “Incorporating Environmental Health Curriculum into Medical Training.”
The poster from Carey, Lu and Dougherty states the problem: “The National Assessment of Adult Literacy has identified significant differences in the variation of health literacy levels by race. Further studies have shown that individuals with low health literacy are more likely to delay accessing care and have difficulty finding a healthcare provider, which may exacerbate racial morbidity and mortality disparities.”
To address this, their project has two aims: 1) disseminate accurate and relevant health information through medical student educator-led sessions, and 2) distribute health literacy handbooks to students and parents. Their topics fall into two categories: 1) navigating health care (over-the-counter medication and risks, when to seek care from a primary care clinical or the emergency department) and 2) lifesaving procedures (cardiopulmonary resuscitation technique and AED use, Narcan training, and first aid administration).
“Our team seeks to equip inner-city high school students belonging to historically marginalized communities with resources on accessing care, making informed health decisions, and performing lifesaving procedures in order to promote health literacy and strive towards a healthier and more equitable state and local community,” Carey says. “Towards this aim, we plan to incorporate our project in the medical school mentorship organization, Doctors of Tomorrow, and disseminate accurate and relevant health information to youth in Detroit.”
The group will work with Cass Tech and Marygrove, inner-city Detroit high schools with strong connections to the University of Michigan.
The second team of Zhao, Almoussa, Stewart, McGowan, Lewy and Barnard states that climate change is the greatest global health threat of our generation, yet significant gaps in environmental health education remain in medical training. They polled current UMMS medical students and found that 96% believe that climate change has an impact on human health, but only 9% feel that this is adequately represented in the curriculum. In response, the have developed a climate change, justice, and health curriculum prototype to be incorporated into UMMS’s required education.
The group developed a set of core competencies dispersed across different elements of the curriculum, ranging from organ-specific environmental risk to clinical content. They plan to use institutional support and funding from this award to support dissemination of curricular reform initiatives.
“It’s clear that climate-related environmental factors have an impact on every organ system and determinant of health, yet these are greatly overlooked in the field of medicine,” Zhao says. “By incorporating environmental health education into the medical school curriculum, we hope to better prepare the next generation of physician leaders.”