For many student volunteers, Des Moines University’s free Back 2 School Physicals event is their first time applying skills learned in clinical medicine and practiced in SPAL to real patients, many of whom have barriers to accessing health care. It’s also an opportunity alumni recall as influential in their training.
In recent years, DMU has worked with Des Moines Public Schools to host the event. Temperatures in Des Moines’ North High School gym neared 100 humid degrees, but volunteer students and providers smiled through the sweat to make this year’s opportunity a success, serving 180 kids.
“I’ve been thinking of going into family medicine for as long as I’ve wanted to be a doctor, so getting an opportunity to do a back-to-school physicals so early in my training is awesome,” said Alexandrea Spindler, D.O.’19.
DMU students work with families in pairs and small teams to take vitals, perform mobility screenings and complete a physical exam. This year, we were fortunate to have a number of DMU alumni overseeing students.
For young physicians such as Laura Abels, D.O.’12, who volunteered with the event as a student, participating as a licensed provider is a way for her to give back and offer mentorship before she’s ready to take on students in her clinical practice.
Abels recalled how meaningful the opportunity was to her as she was just developing her skills, and was happy to work with DMU students and a young patient at the event who felt trepidation about a first-time hernia check.
Supervising clinicians demonstrated conversational skills concurrently with clinical skills – offering tips and tricks at how to put patients at ease and build rapport during an exam.
Special thanks to the following volunteer providers: Laura J. Abels, D.O.’12; Tom Benzoni, D.O.’83; Casey Clor, M.D.; Amy Crane, PA-C; Laura Delaney, PA-C’99; Sheila Garner, PA-C’97; Steven Harder, D.O.’88; Colin Kavanagh, D.O.‘84; Mark Kirkland, D.O.; Diane Liggett, R.N., John Netten, D.O.; Noreen O’Shea, D.O.’84; Gregory Peterson, D.O.’79, Ramona Peterson, RN; and Tabassum Taqi, M.D. and to DMU Trustee Marcia Hammers for assisting with registration.
Overseeing the D.P.T. students, who participated as part of a community engagement course, were: Kathryn Cardamon, P.T.; Laura Covill, D.P.T.; Tracy Porter, D.P.T. and Catherine Stevermer, P.T., Ph.D..
DMU partners with representatives from the Polk County Health Department and Visiting Nurse Services to collect patient data and refer attendees to insurance providers and resources.