Places of worship are often where people go to take care of their hearts, minds and souls. On a recent Friday afternoon, a group of DMU osteopathic medical students made the Muslim Community Organization at the Des Moines mosque Masjid An-Noor a place where people also could take care of their health: The students, along with supervising faculty and MercyOne family medicine residents, offered screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose and more.
Organized by the University’s Muslim Students Association (MSA), a chapter of the National Islamic Medical Association, the event benefited students as well as members of the Muslim Community.
“This is something we always want to do. It’s a great opportunity for us to practice our skills,” says second-year D.O. student Saad Ansari, MSA secretary. “Community service is part of every organization on campus. What better way to give back than to serve the community that nurtured us?”
Adds Mateen Jalili, a second-year student and MSA president: “A lot of people here come from immigrant populations. They don’t have a doctor yet.”
DMU students have provided annual screenings at Des Moines mosques for several years. “It’s a lot of fun and great how appreciative everyone is that we are taking time out of our day to come here,” says Rida Shaikh, a second-year student and MSA vice president. “Volunteering makes you feel good about yourself. Plus this is where you really learn how to take someone’s blood pressure and talk to people.”
Those conversations are meaningful. One man stopped in, a volunteer for Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, talked with students about the presidential race and Iowa’s upcoming caucuses. Other conversations were more practical but equally important.
“People know that high blood sugar is bad, but here we can talk with them about what they can do about it,” Saad says. “The community is very interested in us as individuals. They’re interested in why we’re doing this, and they’re ecstatic to get the screenings.”