Community Impact Day

September 18, 2015

Community Impact Day a Learning Experience for Students

Students at Boys and Girls Club

Nurse practitioner student Rebecca Smith and physician assistant studies student Harout Chouljian painting at the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club.

Leah Briston has been studying in Charlestown since June, but her first trip out of the Navy Yard was September 18. The MGH Institute of Health Professions student says it won’t be her last.

She was one of 350 graduate students who volunteered at several non-profits in Charlestown and other Greater Boston neighborhoods during the Boston health sciences graduate school’s fourth Community Impact Day event.

“This is a beautiful neighborhood,” said the Master of Physician Assistant Studies student, who was part of a team working at the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club in Thompson Square. “Coming here is a great way to give back to the neighborhood and get a chance to know more about the community where we go to school.”

For Pete Nash, the Boys & Girls Club’s executive director, the students provided a valuable service by painting doors, cleaning and dusting the stairwells, and other general maintenance work. “It’s a budget relief for us, because the money we would have to spend on that can be used to provide more services to the young people of Charlestown,” he said. “It’s a great help.”

Each of the 60 Institute teams comprised first-year students from several direct-entry programs at the Boston health science graduate school - Master of Science in Nursing, Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master of Physician Assistant Studies, and Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology - plus the post-professional Master of Science in Physical Therapy.

Tasks included preparing meals at the Boston Rescue Mission, Pine Street Inn, Women’s Lunch Place, and Rosie’s Place; cleaning docks at Courageous Sailing and pulling weeds at the Charlestown Navy Yard National Park Service area; playing health trivia games at several public schools; doing arts and crafts with seniors at the Zelma Lacey House in Charlestown, Center Club in Beacon Hill, and North End Nursing Home; reading and providing books at the Charlestown Nursery School Collaborative; helping to clean boats at AccessSport America behind Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and at Courageous Sailing; cleaning up Revere Beach with the New England Aquarium; and providing “check-ups” for teddy bears brought into the Institute’s nursing lab by families associated with the Charlestown Mothers Association.

The day launched the school’s Impact Practice curriculum. This series of interprofessional courses and activities encourages students to learn with, from, and about one another throughout their first year and reinforces a focus on interprofessional education that has been an Institute hallmark since the school was founded in 1977.

Before heading out for their community service work, the teams participated in a team-building exercise in which they learned about what other health professionals do. “It’s important to know what everyone does, and how they do it,” noted speech-language pathology student Alison Franco, whose team volunteered stuffing envelopes at St. John’s Episcopal Church. “It’s going to make us all better.”

Several studies in recent years have reported that health professionals who work together in teams provide better patient care. "Our aim is to provide students with opportunities to develop the competencies they’ll need to function effectively as members of interprofessional collaborative teams both during their Institute education and after they graduate,” said Assistant Professor Mary Knab, who directs the Impact Practice course.