May 31, 2019

SPARK program launches first year

About a dozen medical students, undergraduate students and high school students from Detroit and its suburbs will work alongside clinical and research faculty from the Wayne State University School of Medicine this summer to explore infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship initiatives in the hospital and in the community as part of the Stewardship Prevention Antibiotic Resistance Knowledge program.

SPARK, a six-week internship, is a collaborative program between the School of Medicine and the Michigan Area Health Education Center.

The program was established by Teena Chopra, M.D., associate professor of Internal Medicine for the School of Medicine, and director for Infection Prevention, Hospital Epidemiology and Antibiotic Stewardship at the Detroit Medical Center.

Students will receive hands-on training in infection prevention, antibiotic resistance and antibiotic stewardship. The program will also mentor students on rapid diagnostics, the importance of vaccination and conducting outbreak investigations as a part of their six-week training. Students will receive informational sessions with a focus on quality improvement in the hospital, outreach community projects, careers in epidemiology, research methods and opportunities to build professional networks with peers and Wayne State University faculty and staff.

Dr. Chopra believes that “early health education can be highly effective in increasing students’ knowledge and constructing their behaviors regarding important and current public health issues and global threats.”
She has included learners at various levels in the program to help provide peer mentorship through medical students and help spark mentor relationships.

“The knowledge of infection prevention, vaccination and antibiotic stewardship is critically lacking in our community,” Dr. Chopra said. “The reluctance to vaccinate or ‘vaccine hesitancy,’ has led to the current measles outbreak and is on the World Health Organization’s top 10 list of 2019 global threats to health. Detroit has the lowest vaccination rate in the nation.

“Similarly, the problem of antibiotic resistance has skyrocketed and is one of the 10 WHO global threats to health,” she added.” I have developed the SPARK curriculum to help empower the Detroit youth to understand the problems that plague our community, and I believe this experience will spark their interest to pursue careers in the field of medicine and public health.”

Students will showcase their research findings during SPARK's closing ceremony in August at the School of Medicine. The presentations will allow students to communicate the importance of their research, learn how to clearly state their findings and analyze those findings, and prompt others to ask questions and provide feedback.