Students Exercising


“This is part of the reason I chose to attend EVMS”

Students help the underserved get healthy through LIFT program

Whether an avid walker or more comfortable on the couch, everyone inside this gym is an athlete.

That’s because they’re all participants in the EVMS service-learning program LIFT, part of a partnership with Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studio in Virginia Beach.

The studio launched the LIFT Fitness Foundation to provide fitness, nutrition and job placement training to the homeless and those in need.

“We would hold training events across Hampton Roads,” Jim White says, “and people regularly approached us wanting to participate, but they didn’t have the money. When people are living paycheck to paycheck and trying to make ends meet, eating healthy and joining a gym rarely make the cut.”

“As a family physician for 25 years, I have seen how difficult it is for most people to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Susan Kim-Foley, MD

That decision can come at a cost. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that low-income American adults have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other chronic disorders than wealthier Americans.

“Interprofessionalism is an important skill in medicine,” Ms. Seymour says, “and there is plenty we can all learn from each other, given the chance.”

White wanted to serve this population but wasn’t sure how to staff the operation. In 2014, he teamed up with EVMS service-learning students to hold 30-, 60- and 90-day fitness and nutrition programs across Hampton Roads — at no cost to participants. The students teach exercise and nutrition classes, check vitals and provide blood pressure and diabetes screenings.

Student Molly Snyder was drawn to EVMS because of the program. “I worked as the program coordinator for LIFT before matriculating at EVMS,” says Ms. Snyder, MD Class of 2021. “In fact, the opportunity to volunteer is part of the reason I chose to attend EVMS.”

During screenings, an attending physician oversees students. Susan Kim-Foley, MD, volunteered to help after learning about the program from her daughter, Caitlyn Foley, MD Class of 2019. Dr. Kim-Foley believes medical students should interact with those in need to better understand the challenges many patients face. “As a family physician for 25 years, I have seen how difficult it is for most people to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Ms. Snyder says seeing the effect LIFT has on the athletes is the most rewarding part. “Not only do they see physical improvements, but many of them also report improvements in confidence and their willingness to set and pursue goals. It’s incredible to witness when that manifests as a new job or housing opportunities.”

Stories on the Vision Quest page reflect ways in which EVMS strives to achieve its vision of being the most community-oriented school of medicine and health professions in the United States.