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Student program wins state award

Story Date: Tue, 08 May 2012 10:16:00 CDT

Beyond Clinic Walls, a student-run community outreach program, is receiving statewide praise from the Commonwealth Council on Aging.

The program received a second place, and a $2,000 check, as part of the annual Best Practices award competition. The Commonwealth Council on Aging advises the Governor on issues affecting the nearly 1 million Virginians age 65 and older.

Beyond Clinic Walls pairs EVMS student volunteers with older residents in the Norfolk area who face complex medical and social issues. The students receive guidance and support from the Glennan Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology. Clients are recruited from Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, the region's Area Agency on Aging.

Beyond Clinic Walls was the brainchild of medical students Daniel C. Parker, Melanie J. Schriber and Sara W. Siddiqui. Each played a pivotal role in starting the program and then passed the torch to this past year's student leaders, Stephanie M. Lape and Viann N. Nguyen.

"Nearly two years ago (the students) asked if it would be possible to start a visitation program for students and community seniors and if I could help," recalls Madeline Dunstan, Associate Director of Education for the Glennan Center. "I facilitated an initial meeting for these three remarkable students with representatives from Senior Services - the rest is history. The students' performance and effort in creating and managing BCW is stunning."

In a letter of support for the award, Robert M. Palmer, MD, MPH, Director of the Glennan Center, said the program benefits patients and students.

"This educational program is of tremendous significance to the medical school. First, it is remarkably innovative and without precedence in this area. Secondly, students are sensitized to the issues of an aging population and are inspired to find solutions to their clients' health issues, whether physical or social. Thirdly, it has the potential to increase the number of health professionals who enter a career dedicated to our aging population," Dr. Palmer wrote.