June 11, 2021

Students return to Detroit Riverwalk for community health screenings

A years-established summertime health screening opportunity popular with community members who walk the Detroit Riverwalk every Tuesday morning has returned more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of in-person volunteer opportunities for Wayne State University School of Medicine students.

On June 8, medical students joined with students from the WSU Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to screen blood pressures of 50 patients ranging in age from 53 to 87 years old.

A School of Medicine student checks a walker's blood pressure.

Detroit Riverwalkers stride along the riverfront to embrace a healthier lifestyle by introducing fun fitness activities, health screenings and wellness education. Every Tuesday when weather permits, WSU students provide blood pressure screenings, and educational talks about nutrition and common medical issues.

The program was started by School of Medicine Associate Professor and Director of Community Engagement Jennifer Mendez, Ph.D., and first offered to medical students in June 2014. The sessions are offered in collaboration with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

The students earn service-learning credit for their participation. They are supervised by faculty members and area physicians, including School of Medicine alumnus Andrew Markowitz, M.D. ’85.

“I thought it went great. The students definitely became more comfortable taking blood pressures by the end of the session. It is an excellent service-learning activity to introduce them to clinical care and patient interviewing as well. Of course, the public was greatly appreciative,” Dr. Markowitz said. “I enjoyed interacting with and educating the students and patients.”

A Wayne State student incorporates a walker's information during a Riverwalk session.

Class of 2024 medical student Benjamin Wright was among the volunteers working with walkers.

“It was great to meet and talk to members of the community and provide them with some guidance while working on our clinical skills. It was one of the first times I truly felt like a member of the Detroit community,” Wright said.

Pharmacy Preceptor and Adjunct Assistant Professor Rima Charara, Pharm.D., also worked with the students and patients.

“It was very busy and a great learning experience. Overall I’ll rate this as  A+, a success. Patients are eager to come back and report next week," she said.

The walkers look forward to having their blood pressures checked at the event, said medical student Narmeen Rehman.

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