June 3, 2019

Class tackles food insecurity awareness with public service announcements, food maps and more

The Wayne State University School of Medicine and its medical students hosted a food and personal hygiene drive May 30 born out of a classroom assignment.

The six-week spring unit of the Class of 2022’s Population, Patient, Physician and Professionalism course launched in April was focused on teaching the school’s physicians-in-training about food insecurity from a hands-on, clinical-based perspective.

p4 1
One group created a map of food resources in the area.

“I’m transitioning the students to understand, ‘Here’s a problem. What are we doing to help?’” said P4 Course Director Nakia Allen, M.D.  “They’re doing it in a way that’s patient-centered and sensitive. A lot of them are starting to understand that there is a lot to being a physician.”

Dr. Allen is an associate professor of Pediatrics. In addition to engaging the students in a medical education beyond memorizing anatomy and disease states, she also hopes to involve her fellow faculty members.

“(Food insecurity education) is so obscure from the basic science perspective, but it’s also very fun and rewarding. I’m not giving them a fact, I’m mimicking clinic. The easiest way to help is to pop in on the students and say, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ Preceptors and facilitators are also needed,” she said.

The students presented their final food insecurity project presentations from 9 to 10:45 a.m. in the Margherio Family Conference Center and Scott Hall’s Blue Auditorium, and from 10:45 a.m. to noon in the Scott Hall cafeteria. Food, toiletries and feminine hygiene products were dropped off at the presentation. All donations will benefit Wayne State’s W Pantry.

p4 3
Another group project presented their findings in a large format poster.

A variety of activities took place leading up to the final project presentations, including:

  • Dietetic students serving as preceptors taught medical students the essentials of nutrition. They also learned about nutrition counseling and how this impacts patients. Hypercholesterolemia, diabetic and pregnant case studies were discussed and worked through.
  • Shopping assignments required students to figure out how to pay for an American Diabetes Association-approved meal with a government food assistance allowance, using sales circulars from within the 48202 ZIP code in Detroit.
  • Students identified sliding scale clinics because they will learn that patients who are food insecure have higher chronic health issues, Dr. Nakia said.
  • Community stakeholders lectured on how hospitals, doctors and community grass roots organizations address food insecurity.
  • An attorney and a student representative of the American Medical Association presented on how to understand and analyze health policy.

“In June, we will be addressing veterans’ health and we will be having panels, case conferences and interprofessional activities with allied health,” Allen said. “I believe that there will be opportunities for some alumni and friends of Wayne State to become involved with the curriculum, especially on some of the veterans panels later on.”

p4 2
A multipage magazine was among the projects presented.

In addition to activities on campus, each Learning Community from the Class of 2022 has volunteered with nonprofits such as Gleaners Food Bank, Keep Growing Detroit and Brilliant Detroit as part of the P4 course’s Service-Learning component. The outreach parallels Dr. Allen’s coursework, and is led by the school’s Director of Community Engagement Jennifer Mendez, Ph.D.

Wayne State partners with Brilliant Detroit, a neighborhood-based nonprofit of early childhood and family centers that provides holistic services for children from birth to age 8 predicated on evidence-based programs around health, family support and education. In April, students helped remove trash and large discarded items from an alley, beautified backyards, created games for literacy programs, helped run a taste test to identify healthy foods, present a mini medical school experience and spread the word about Brilliant Detroit to the neighborhood.

“I’m glad to have had the opportunity to learn about the organization and see first-hand the impact they are having in the community,” shared one student after a visit to Brilliant Detroit’s Cody-Rouge hub.

For more information on helping with P4 course initiatives, email Dr. Allen at cs6797@wayne.edu