Interprofessional student group focuses on community health

Nursing students Tajaira Thiessen and Danielle Labuik work alongside medical students Rob Trasolini and Jordan Nostedt to measure blood pressure for participants at the recent Diversity Health Fair.

CHAMP BC targets local residents who may have ‘at risk’ health issues

Students from the Faculty of Medicine and the School of Nursing at UBC’s Okanagan campus are working collaboratively to form provide health action teams for the local community. Community Health Awareness Management Program BC (CHAMP BC) are groups of medical and nursing students working together and with the public to assess health risks and provide disease prevention information and strategies.

The CHAMP model was originally created in 2010 by Dr. Charlotte Jones, Endocrinologist and Associate Professor of Medicine with the UBC Faculty of Medicine while practicing and teaching at the University of Calgary. The model uses the principal of upstream thinking to decrease the number of patients with chronic disease who need to see specialists further down the stream of their medical care. Further, while fulfilling the University’s objectives for interprofessional teaching and learning, the students fulfill public health needs and gain valued community experience.

“The goal of the CHAMP BC is to help improve the health of ‘at risk’ community members while exposing students to interprofessional practice,” said Dr. Jones. “Students help to address the health needs of diverse populations within our community while gaining valuable experience working in a collaborative interprofessional environment, similar to that in which they will practice upon graduating from their respective programs.”

CHAMP BC conducted their first public health event at the recent Diversity Health Fair held at the Okanagan Sikh Temple. Students provided free health assessments to more than 100 participants. After measuring each participant’s blood pressure they used the Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire (CANRISK) developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, to assess participants’ risk for diabetes, and finally, provided healthy lifestyle recommendations to each individual.

“Diabetes and hypertension are the two biggest risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease,” said Antonia Sappong, first year Southern Medical Program student. “Our goal is to connect with people from the community and encourage ‘at risk’ individuals to act early enough to avoid further complications.”

“We are able to raise awareness about high risk factors and provide advice on healthy lifestyles,” said Robyn Fedediko, fourth year nursing student. “Each participant is given a risk assessment from low to moderate and provided advice based on their risk level including possibly following-up with the appropriate health care professional.”

Chronic disease prevention was the theme of this year’s Diversity Fair, an annual health event led by Kelowna Community Resources which featured over 20 different health-related organizations. Event speakers included Dr. Jones and Dr. Joan Botorff, Director of the Institute of Health Living and Chronic Disease Prevention.

CHAMP represents a partnership with the UBC Faculty of Medicine, School of Nursing, Institute of Health Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, Interior Health and the Canadian Diabetes Association. Plans are underway to provide similar workshops in the Okanagan over the coming month. Faculty members were recently joined by a representative from the Interior Health Authority to host a training session for students at the Reichwald Health Sciences Centre at UBC’s Okanagan campus.