UCF College of Medicine faculty, staff and medical students teamed up to provide health screenings and education at last weekend’s Zora! Festival 2013. The annual event honors Zora Neale Hurston and her hometown of Eatonville, the oldest incorporated African-American municipality in America.
On Friday, February 1, M.D. students presented “Body Wise,” to school children to excite them about medical science, the human body and careers in medicine. The doctors-in-training showed young people three-D images of hearts and lungs on their iPads, had the children listen to their hearts with a stethoscope and talked about ways the body can fail and thrive. Second-year medical student Lauren Goldberg, a leader of the three-day volunteer event, was thrilled to share her love of medicine with elementary, middle and high school students. “I asked one little girl about the heart and she told me something cute I’ll never forget,” Lauren said. She said, ‘When the heart breaks, it aches.’”
On Saturday and Sunday, February 2 and 3, students and faculty physicians from UCF Pegasus Health, the College of Medicine physician practice, performed health screenings for high blood pressure, diabetes and BMI-waist circumference. Almost 150 Zora! visitors came through the College of Medicine tent for a screening, including one woman with high blood sugars who said she wouldn’t have known about her condition if she hadn’t been checked and consulted with the doctors. She promised to make an health care appointment on Monday.
Students said the experience helped them practice their skills and learn to apply what they were learning in class to real patients. Dr. Lisa Barkley, assistant director of diversity and inclusion who also treats patients at UCF Pegasus Health, said participating in events like Zora! helps students learn about the community’s health needs and ways to better address those needs.
Community events also provide opportunities for new partnerships and collaboration. Dr. Dinender Singla, associate professor at the college’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, volunteered at the festival along with his 14-year-old son, Reetish. Dr. Singla, a cardiovascular specialist, is researching stem cells as a cure to heart disease and diabetic heart issues. As he and Dr. Barkley worked together Saturday, they shared ideas for possible research studies in the future.
Dr. Singla said improving the health of individuals and communities is the ultimate goal of basic scientific research. And such collaboration was also an important lesson for Reetish, who has his father’s love of biology and hopes one day to go to medical school and become a cardiac or neurosurgeon.