The IHP’s annual Community IMPACT Day brings together more than 500 student and staff volunteers while emphasizing interprofessional education

As she stood by bins and bins of clothes, IHP student Eliza Koso could only marvel at the process involved – sifting through the clothes to make sure what was donated was of high enough quality to go be worn again, sorting into appropriate sizes and ages, then boxing up them up for transport. 

“I think it's really great to be able to do things that are non-medicine connected, said Koso, a second--semester Bachelor of Science in Nursing student, “because there's so much in our communities that you can do beyond medicine to help people out. And so being able to do something like this, which is more focused on general community impact, is great. This behind-the-scenes part of it – seeing how items get from the donation box to the kids – is really cool.” 

Koso and a team of 18 other volunteers spent the annual Community IMPACT Day at the Newton headquarters of Cradles to Crayons, a non-profit that distributes needed items to disadvantaged children in the region. Made up of student, faculty and staff volunteers, the teams were deliberately built to bring students from different fields together to work in an interprofessional manner. 

“It's teamwork,” said Chiara Campanella, a first-year Master of Science in Nursing student who was sorting children’s clothing into bins. “Each of us chose different roles. Some are sorting, some are checking the quality, some are moving the bins. It's just teamwork which is we're going to be doing in healthcare – working together regardless of what our job is.”

Bringing together different experiences and educational backgrounds where students can learn from each other is what interprofessional education is all about. Because team-based care results in better patient outcomes, interprofessional education is a hallmark of the Institute. Having students participate in a day of service incorporating teamwork is most appropriate in their IHP educational career. 

“I think it really highlights the IHP’s commitment to community service and to bringing professionals together,” said Kim Mace, Director of the online Prerequisites program and one of the IHP volunteer leaders at Cradles to Crayons. “And I think that's an important thing for our students to see up front and then hopefully, continue to have modeled throughout their program and then throughout their professional journey.”

On this day, the volunteer journeys were numerous – 64 teams spreading goodwill to organizations in Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop, and Newton. In all, more than 500 students (mostly first-year) and staff volunteered at more than two dozen locations including new sites of service that included Chelsea Elder Services, Charlestown High School, and New Health community center in Charlestown.

“The day was a success thanks to an amazing team of faculty, staff, and volunteers, as well as our students!” exclaimed Dr. Midge Hobbs, Director of the school’s IMPACT Practice curriculum, who organized the event. “Community IMPACT Day is such a great way to showcase two of our IHP values: interprofessionalism and service.”

Hobbs said the day’s success wouldn’t have occurred without the efforts of Heather Easter, Ellen Foley, Yolanda Mendez Rainey, and Rachel Rubin, who worked tirelessly for months to set up and execute these service activities.

At the Shouse Building on the IHP’s Charlestown campus, at least a half-dozen teams were tasked with creating fun and engaging arts and crafts kits that will be delivered to families who are currently staying at the Ronald McDonald House, a non-profit providing comfort, care, and support for families with children from around the world who are sick. 

“This has been very therapeutic for us, and I know it will be for the children as well,” said Ronny Batista, a class of 2026 Master of Science in Nursing student. “I hope that these kits will make them smile and distract them for a bit from what they’re going through.”

At the Harvard Kent Elementary School in Charlestown, IHP volunteers kept students busy with physical activities that included scooter hockey, an obstacle course, and rock and birdhouse painting. Laughter could be heard throughout the gym as children were having fun while learning team building and how to follow instructions. There was an agenda to the exercise and activity: studies show only 25% of children get a healthy amount of physical activity each day.

“The kids are having a great time and really don’t care about who’s winning, which shows that they just enjoy and appreciate the activity,” said Tara Ferraro, a second-semester Doctor of Physical Therapy student, as she monitored a hula hoop obstacle course the children were maneuvering. “This activity helps us build communication skills with the other facilitators, our supervisors, and the kids. As we’re going through this, we have to figure out how the kids need to be worked with, and we have to adapt and even sometimes change the rules to fit their needs. This reflects what we’ll have to do in our careers.”

Nearby on Chelsea Street, IHP students and staff cleaned up garbage from under the Tobin Bridge. 

“It’s fun to get out and moving and doing stuff in the community, and when it’s over I’m sure we’ll feel a nice sense of accomplishment,” said Emily Cudhea Pierce, a first-year Doctor of Occupational Therapy student. “Earlier, I cleaned a few blocks by myself and then the team came in to help and there was a moment of real camaraderie.”