BTG Hope

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BTG Community Preceptor
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Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey Projects - 2017

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Helping a Permanent Supportive Housing Initiative Get Started! Addressing the Needs of Clients

Student Interns:
Sruthi Babu, Rutgers University, School of Public Health
Andrew Chen, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Academic Preceptors:
Stacy N. Davis, PhD, MPH, Rutgers University, Rutgers School of Public Health
Maria B. Pellerano, MA, MBA, MPH, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Community Preceptor:
Melissa Mascolo, MA, Director of Program Management, Making It Possible to End Homelessness

The Community Site:
Making It Possible to End Homelessness is now partnering with Mission First Housing Group in its initiative to end homelessness in Central New Jersey. Amandla Crossing and Imani Park will provide permanent supportive housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Middlesex County. Amandla and Imani have 46 units of safe, affordable, permanent housing combined with on-site support services where residents can access the resources they need to increase health, independence and housing stability. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns developed an optional health and wellness survey for the clients and their children at Amandla Crossing and Imani Park. The interns participated in the entire client screening process and gave the survey at the end of each client visit to almost everyone. Using the survey data, the interns were able to craft a curriculum for healthy eating on a budget and oral health. In addition, they conducted capacity-building initiatives to obtain food for the new food pantries and toys for the children’s room on-site. Finally, they assisted in cleaning and organizing the sites so they would be ready for the new clients.

Personal Statements:
Sruthi said, “My experience working as a Bridging the Gaps intern was amazing. I had an opportunity to work with people experiencing homelessness. I learned about how the organization works and the available support network and associated organizations working to end homelessness. The most inspiring and motivating part was to participate in client surveys, where I learned about client hardships and the struggles people are dealing with. Many clients had limited education and were unaware of the resources available. The role of caseworkers in connecting people to these resources was amazing to learn about. Being a public health student, I have studied how social determinants play an important role in a person’s health. I witnessed their impact during my seven weeks at Amandla. I will take this experience forward in my life and work to create awareness about people’s struggles and successes.” Andrew said, “Overall, my experience at Amandla was different than I expected but still as rewarding and eye-opening as I had hoped. While I did not have the opportunity to teach clients classes, I did get to witness the process of this permanent housing initiative getting started. I was able to participate in the full screenings of clients, where some of them really opened up about past traumas and hardships. Many of them were suffering from mental illness, which confirmed for me my belief that mental health among people experiencing poverty is of paramount importance. I also got to help contact other organizations and resources to obtain food for the new on-site food pantry, which was a new but useful experience as well as it taught me outreach and organizational skills.”

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Engaging People With Mental Illness Through Workshops and Primary Medical Care

Student Interns:
Chantel Fletcher, Rutgers University, School of Public Health
Mark Lee, Rutgers University, School of Public Health

Academic Preceptors:
Robert Laumbach, MD, MPH, CIH, Rutgers University, School of Public Health
Qingyu Meng, PhD, Rutgers University, School of Public Health

Community Preceptors:
Debra Brown-Ford, Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services
Michael Swerdlow PhD, MACHE, Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services

The Community Site:
Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services was established in 1970 with the goal of rehabilitating people with mental illness and paving a path for their recovery. It also aims to reduce the stigma of mental illness. Bridgeway helps people with mental illness to fully integrate back into society by assisting them in myriad ways, ranging from PACT (Program for Assertive Community Treatment) team home visits to a partial-care day facility. Its partial-care facility holds daily group sessions on topics such as healthy living and recovering from substance abuse. Bridgeway also focuses on social skills, job preparation and creative outlets for the people served. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Tobacco Use

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns initially shadowed workshops, meetings and other activities at Bridgeway’s partial-care facility. Following this, the interns identified areas of need for the community at Bridgeway and developed classes, workshops and interventions to meet these needs. Classes included healthy eating and nutrition, smoking cessation and improvisational comedy/art therapy. In addition, the interns led an outreach program to increase the number of Bridgeway partial-care clients involved with the primary medical care program at Bridgeway, Bridge to Wellness. The interns also spearheaded an Oral Health Week, during which they led a series of workshops concerning oral health and hygiene (such as proper brushing and flossing techniques), concluding with the distribution of oral health materials such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss.

Personal Statements:
Chantel said, “Working at Bridgeway fulfilled me this summer since I already had an interest in holistic healing in vulnerable populations. There is so much stigma, self-doubt and insecurity when one has a mental illness, and these sometimes keep people from seeking help. What I liked most about interning at Bridgeway was their community-centered approach to recovery, building on clients’ existing strengths and fostering a supportive community. I would like to get involved in community-based participatory research because I believe that using the knowledge of the community to understand health problems allows public health professionals to design interventions that provide immediate benefits. The personal takeaway lesson, for me, was the kindest thing you can do for a person is to free them from your idea of them and engage with clients on the premise that we simply both are human.” Mark said, “My time spent at Bridgeway’s partial care through the BTG CHIP program has had a great impact on me, both personally and professionally. It was emotionally moving to hear the personal stories of the clients at Bridgeway as well as see these same people grow and engage with the classes that Chantel and I led. Furthermore, this experience has elucidated for me the importance of evidence-based research and interventions, as I was constantly thinking of the best and most efficient ways to engage the community for the best health outcomes. I will undoubtedly take these lessons and experiences with me into the future, both as a public health professional and in my personal life.”

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Education and Insurance as Measures of Food Insecurity Among Camden Residents

Student Interns:
Cansu Baycora, Rowan University, School of Osteopathic Medicine
Michael DeFilippo, Rowan University, School of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Samantha M. Plasner, DO, Rowan University, School of Osteopathic Medicine
Meagan W. Vermeulen, MD, Rowan University, School of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Natasha Dravid, MBA, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Clinical Redesign Initiatives

The Community Site:
The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality, capacity, coordination and accessibility of the health care system for all residents of Camden. Drawing on the experiences of the clinical team and patients, Coalition staff work to transform health care cost and delivery at the policy level. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with a team to administer anonymous surveys to patients in the waiting rooms of several primary care offices in Camden that are part of the Camden Coalition Accountable Care Organization. The purpose of the survey was to assess concerns about quality. It included questions on a variety of topics, including patient satisfaction, food insecurity, access to health care and demographic information. After a few weeks of administering surveys, the interns conducted a preliminary analysis of the data, focusing on the correlation between food insecurity and education, insurance coverage and number of primary care visits per year. The interns also met with representatives of the Campbell Soup Company in Camden to discuss food insecurity and learn about initiatives the company has under way.

Personal Statements:
Cansu said, “Working at the Camden Coalition made me aware of the many factors that affect patients’ health. In my future career as a physician, I plan to consider these factors when I work with patients to improve their well-being. I hope that I will also engage with the community in which I am practicing in order to learn about their daily lives, hopes and struggles.” Michael said, “My experience at the Coalition has helped me, a future physician in New Jersey, prepare to address the specific needs of Camden. Being out in the community, I was able to see the barriers to care and real issues that some Camden citizens face. I can adjust my future clinical practice and community advocacy as a physician to better tailor the treatment plan of a patient with their personal and cultural lifestyle.”

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Sign Up, Set Up, Show Up: Empowering Youth to Build Resiliency Skills in the Dove Learning Center

Student Intern:
Vi Nguyen, Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Academic Preceptor:
Anita Siu, PharmD, BCPPS, Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Community Preceptor:
Roslyn Talley, MSW, Covenant House Atlantic City

The Community Site:
The Covenant House Atlantic City crisis center provides shelter and support for young adults aged 18 to 21. The center’s full range of services includes case management and advocacy, access to legal advice, on-site health care provided by Atlanticare, and a resiliency development program called the Dove Learning Center. Covenant House helps youth who are in transition maintain stability and offers guidance to keep growing in a positive direction. The youth are expected to take on more responsibility, such as finding a job and completing educational goals, in preparation for their departure from Covenant House. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Immunization; Preparedness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern at Covenant House Atlantic City helped develop an appointment-based system for the Dove Learning Center program. She assisted in the introduction and launch of Setmore class bookings and Google applications, and she trained staff and youth at the center in their use. Through the booking of workshops and integration with Google calendar, the intern helped the youth and staff work together to build a calendar of events with work schedules, educational and vocational activities, medical and behavioral health assessments, and case plans. The intern also assisted in scheduling and acquiring paperwork for the weekly behavioral health assessments and held a workshop about workflow, operations and tips on going to the pharmacy.

Personal Statement:
Vi said, “My experience at the Covenant House in Atlantic City is one that has changed my entire outlook on what it’s like to work with underserved patients and the community. Being placed at the center of a crisis shelter made me realize how complex homelessness is and how resilient and strong the youth in the community are. At the same time, it made me realize how health and wellness get neglected when immediate needs (shelter, food, safety, etc.) are more paramount in a patient’s life. It has taught me patience and flexibility, and has given me an unforgettable experience in working with and understanding the needs of a community.”

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Health Awareness and Engagement at Damon House in New Brunswick

Student Interns:
Samuel Katers, Rutgers University, School of Health Professions
Daniel Uhiara, Rutgers University, School of Health Professions

Academic Preceptors:
Irina Grafova, PhD, Rutgers University, School of Public Health
Matthew McQuillan, MS, PA-C, Rutgers University, School of Health Professions

Community Preceptor:
Ileen F. Bradley, Executive Director, Damon House

The Community Site:
Damon House is a residential treatment facility that offers a wide array of counseling, educational and health-promoting services to individuals recovering from substance abuse. Damon House treats male and female addicts who are striving to recover from their addictions while addressing underlying mental health issues. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Responsible Sexual Behavior; Substance Abuse

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns modified existing workshop curricula on exercise, nutrition, heart health, germs and hygiene, dental hygiene and sexually transmitted infections, as well as facilitating workshops on these topics for clients (one topic each week). The interns were also responsible for reviewing and updating the exercise components of the facility’s fitness program, including the weekly workout sessions and fitness tests for clients. Major challenges included getting clients to participate and adhere to current cardiovascular workout routines designed for them, keeping clients motivated while emphasizing the importance of such workout routines to their health and recovery process, and maintaining accuracy in data entry of individual performances. The interns also modified and redesigned the food journals used by clients and created a system for effective monitoring by caseload counselors in order to help keep track of clients’ eating habits and how nutrition affects their mood. Finally, the interns coordinated the annual Field Day, a fun and friendly competitive outdoor event enjoyed by the residents.

Personal Statements:
Samuel said, “My time at Damon House has been extremely influential in my educational process of becoming a physician assistant. I will never forget some of the conversations I had with the clients over this past summer, and how they have opened my eyes to the hardships that individuals with substance abuse disorder face. Damon House has enlightened me on the role that health care has in assessing and preventing substance abuse, while showing me direct examples of how the social determinants of health can play an influential role in an individual’s health status. Overall, my experience at Damon House through Bridging the Gaps has helped to mold me into a better individual and will make me into a more compassionate physician assistant in the future.” Daniel said, “I remember one of my supervisors encouraging me to engage in more public speaking activities. Well, I could not have had it any better this summer! The workshops were great opportunities for me to improve my communication skills and self-expression. This is my first poster experience, and I am glad to be a part of it. Coordinating the Field Day event added to my previous event planning experiences, which would be relevant in my public health career. Having spent several weeks at Damon House, I have a better understanding of how various socioeconomic factors predispose people to addictions and also impact the recovery process. I also have a better appreciation of the practical application of behavioral change theories with regard to addiction recovery.”

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An Assessment and Identification of Community Resources Available for Drug Addiction

Student Interns:
Constance Fiocco, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Pavan Shah, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Academic Preceptors:
Liesel Copeland, PhD, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
David Swee, MD, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Community Preceptor:
Yvette Molina, Director of Community Services, Elijah’s Promise

The Community Site:
Elijah’s Promise began as a volunteer-run soup kitchen serving the hungry in New Brunswick, N.J., and has since expanded into a social enterprise, providing jobs and training opportunities for impoverished and underrepresented people. Elijah’s Promise prepares thousands of delicious, nutritious meals each year and provides the hungry with access to fresh, quality food, because all people should have access to good food. In addition to providing healthy food to the community, Elijah’s Promise connects low-income individuals and families with social and health services. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Nutrition and Weight Status; Substance Abuse

The Project:
The purpose of the Bridging the Gaps student interns’ project was to assess how knowledgeable clients at Elijah’s Promise are about community resources available for a drug user or for the family and friends of one. The interns designed a survey for the clients that asked questions related to the following topics: demographics, satisfaction with Elijah’s Promise, the opioid epidemic and drug addiction resources, and general knowledge regarding hepatitis C. Survey results identified a critical need for an informational flyer that summarized drug addiction resources and services available in the community. The informational flyer will be distributed with the goal of raising awareness and facilitating the recovery process.

Personal Statements:
Connie said, “The BTG summer internship provided me with a unique and rewarding learning opportunity that is truly unmatched. I have gained valuable exposure and hands-on experience that will undoubtedly shape me into a better medical student and physician. My time at Elijah’s Promise this summer has opened my eyes to the strength and true character of the New Brunswick community. From cooking in the community soup kitchen, attending community outreach events and designing a survey to assess the knowledge regarding the availability of community resources for drug addiction, I now have the foundation for a stronger connection and understanding for all of my patients in the future.” Pavan said, “Working at Elijah’s Promise this summer as a BTG intern has been a truly humbling and rewarding experience. I learned about the challenges facing the New Brunswick community I’ve been studying in as a medical student, whether it be food insecurity, substance abuse or gentrification. More important, I learned about the strengths of the community, from the vast network of community resources to the kindhearted and resilient nature of the people. Overall, this experience has shown me that community outreach will be an integral part of my career in medicine, as it will enable me to more effectively relate to my patients.”

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Needs Assessment of Patients With Epilepsy and Family Members

Student Interns:
Ilan Kolotek, Rowan University, School of Osteopathic Medicine
Jessica Ludolph, Rowan University, School of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
William Halperin, DrPH, MD, MPH, Rutgers University, New Jersey Medical School
Aubrey Olson, DO, Rowan University, School of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Liza Gundell, Chief Program Officer, Family Resource Network
Adeola Sonaike, PhD, MPH, Senior Vice President of Health, Family Resource Network

The Community Site:
The Family Resource Network (FRN) is a comprehensive family-focused umbrella organization designed to meet the growing need for community-based programs and services for individuals and families with a variety of disabilities. Through four affiliate organizations—Autism Family Services of New Jersey, Caregivers of New Jersey, Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey and Family Support Center of New Jersey—FRN is dedicated to offering individuals and their families with continuing needs the greatest opportunities, resources and services to support a full and happy life. The Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey (EFNJ), an affiliate of the National Epilepsy Foundation, provides necessary programs for families living with epilepsy, such as a residential summer camp, support groups, scholarships and referral programs. EFNJ also offers free educational presentations about seizure first aid, police training and helmet safety. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Disabilities Conditions; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Mental Health

The Project:
In association with the Family Resource Network (FRN) and the Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey (EFNJ), the Bridging the Gaps student interns created an open-ended interview to administer to patients at the Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group (NEREG). The interview questions touched on daily struggles and desired changes to care, education and employment situations. Responses were reviewed and key areas of need were identified and compiled. FRN will use the formal statement that was created to present the needs of this population to insurance companies to promote collaboration with FRN and improve resource allocation to this patient population.

Personal Statements:
Ilan said, “My BTG experience was eye-opening. I think that being able to spend time with patients and listen to them speak about the difficulties that they personally encounter is invaluable. The experience is a reminder that health is far more than a diagnosis. These are people with lives just as complex as our own.” Jessica said, “It was truly a privilege to be able to hear these individuals’ stories and how epilepsy impacts their everyday lives. Learning how this condition touches each aspect of their life is an important perspective to keep as I go forward in my education as a medical student and future physician. My mind has been opened to the social impact different disabilities can have, and I will take this knowledge and openness to learning into my future interactions in the medical field.”

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Antibiotic Stewardship Program and In-Service Educational Training

Student Interns:
Ileana Arce, Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy
Harkiran Kaur, Rutgers University, School of Public Health

Academic Preceptors:
Mary L. Wagner, PharmD, MS, Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy
Bernadette West, PhD, MA, Rutgers University, School of Public Health

Community Preceptor:
Lisa Slater, MSN, RN, Director of Nursing, Francis E. Parker Memorial Home at River Road

The Community Site:
The Francis E. Parker Memorial Home provides transformative and charitable long-term care services in a home-like setting. It has been a teaching nursing home for over 100 years and is known as the gold standard in long-term care. In addition to delivering the best quality of care and service, Parker advances learning opportunities for nurses, other health care professionals and caregivers, and it sponsors student interns from various professional fields. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Disabilities; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Mental Health; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns rotated among three locations within Parker at River Road: Adult Day Social, Adult Day Medical and Evergreen Way. The interns also researched, coordinated and initiated an antibiotic stewardship program at Parker at River Road by organizing in-service training sessions for the nursing staff of River Road and Landing Lane and contacting health care professionals for leadership, accountability and commitment to the antibiotic stewardship team and program. For the in-service training sessions, the interns prepared a presentation and conducted a pre- and post-survey to assess the knowledge of the nursing staff. The interns also presented two oral health sessions for the participants of the Adult Day Social program and the residents of Evergreen Way, in which they gave a PowerPoint presentation and distributed toothpaste, floss and toothbrushes. Last, the interns participated in recreational activities, encouraged physical activity whenever possible, and helped serve breakfast and lunch.

Personal Statements:
Ileana said, “The BTG CHIP has taught me a lot about working with older adults with dementia, a very vulnerable population which many people overlook. Being placed at Parker, I learned how to change my own behaviors to help and provide the best care and company to the residents of Evergreen Way and participants of the Adult Day program. Completing the BTG CHIP, I not only grew as a person and as a professional, but I have come to realize that in the future I would love to pursue a Master’s of Public Health degree to continue to work with underserved populations and continue making an impact in the quality of care of these individuals.” Harkiran said, “I feel incredibly fortunate to be working as a part of Bridging the Gaps community summer internship program as it has helped me broaden my skills in many ways. My experience at my site has been great. Being in public health, my BTG site offered me the opportunity to work as a member of a vast multidisciplinary team of staff members, which included social workers, nursing staff, recreational therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, artists, pharmacists, physicians and more. Further, being a registered nurse, it enhanced my skills to work effectively in a team and contribute to holistic patient care. I also feel that it was a unique opportunity to contribute towards the health promotion of the residents of my site through the antibiotic stewardship program we worked on. The overall experience was challenging, as I had not worked with the elderly population before, but at the end of the day, it was rewarding. I liked serving the community and learned a lot both on a personal and professional front. I regard it as a unique lifetime opportunity.”

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Wheel of W-E-L-L-N-E-S-S!

Student Intern:
Megha Shah, Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Academic Preceptor:
Megan Maroney, PharmD, BCPP, Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Community Preceptor:
Rebecca Rhoads, Housing and Social Justice, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Metuchen

The Community Site:
The Ozanam Family Shelter provides temporary and emergency shelter to 16 single women and 26 families experiencing homelessness. While staying at the shelter, the clients are constantly working with their case managers to find jobs, improve their economic status and ultimately obtain permanent housing. The shelter provides various services such as meals; physical and mental health assessments; crisis counseling; assistance with housing, employment and children’s educational placement; case management; and referrals. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Oral Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern developed and led a series of four health and wellness lectures that provided the clients with resources to become proactive with their own health. Topics included women’s health, staying safe, medication safety, and dental and oral health. Along with the lectures, the intern conducted one-on-one appointments with clients who wanted to talk more specifically about their health needs and helped them make their own emergency medical cards, which included all their pertinent medical information and emergency contact information. During the classes, clients had the opportunity to contribute their own experiences in a safe, intimate environment. With the help of donations from the Bridging the Gaps community, the intern provided clients with health and wellness goody bags at the end of the session. She also researched local dental clinics that could provide services for the children. Last, she created health and wellness “exit packets” for the clients to take with them when they secure permanent housing. These packets include information about the Federally Qualified Health Centers in the Middlesex County area, prescription discount cards, information sheets on over-the-counter medications and much more. In this way, even after the clients leave the shelter, they still have the tools to prioritize health and wellness in a way that is convenient and affordable for themselves and their families.

Personal Statement:
Megha said, “I could not be more grateful for my experience at the Ozanam Family Shelter. Throughout this experience, the resilience and camaraderie of the staff inspired me to stay focused on my goals to advocate for the importance of health and wellness. Interacting with the clients pushed me to develop new ways of communicating about health in a way that was purposeful and engaging. However, I learned so much from the clients as well. After working with the women at the shelter, especially the mothers, I never felt prouder to be a woman, and I also had a strong urge to hug my own mom! Their strength, patience and unwavering love for their families in the face of all these challenges empowered me to work harder for them.”

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A-C-E: What’s It Gotta Do With Me?

Student Interns:
Timothy H. Amin, Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy
Lindsay Burke, Rutgers University, New Jersey Medical School

Academic Preceptors:
Germin Fahim, PharmD, Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy
Marian Passannante, PhD, Rutgers University, New Jersey Medical School

Community Preceptor:
Karen Benjamin, MPH, Essex Pregnancy & Parenting Connection, Prevent Child Abuse NJ

The Community Site:
Prevent Child Abuse America, founded in 1972 in Chicago, works to ensure the healthy development of children nationwide. The organization promotes that vision through a network of chapters in 50 states and more than 500 Healthy Families America home visitation sites in 41 states. Advocating for a national policy framework and strategy for children and families, while promoting evidence-based practices that prevent abuse and neglect, is a major organizational focus. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; Injury and Violence Prevention; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Prevent Child Abuse were inspired to perform community outreach on the public health phenomenon of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). They created informational and promotional materials the agency can use for outreach to potential clients and partners. The materials were distributed at an ACE documentary screening at Newark Beth Israel Hospital, where the interns discussed the impact and importance of ACEs with hospital staff. In addition, the interns visited more than 20 pediatrician’s offices in Essex County to increase awareness of the Essex Pregnancy & Parenting Connection (EPPC) and its preventive health services and resources. The interns worked diligently to make Essex County families and providers more aware of ACEs and what EPPC can do to help.

Personal Statements:
Timothy said, “The BTG summer internship was quite an eye-opening and inspiring experience. Overall, it made me more aware of the community health services and resources available to all who are in need of them. As an aspiring pharmacist, I now realize that public and community health have tremendous implications for my future profession and my patients. BTG has made me more conscious of the world around me and the variety of issues that many are facing day in and day out. Because of BTG, I am now committed to helping underserved populations in my community.” Lindsay said, “My BTG experience highlighted the immense importance of interprofessional collaboration to ensure patients receive the highest quality care. While we have been lectured about this concept in class, participating in BTG gave that lesson real meaning. The health care providers who work with EPPC undoubtedly set their patients up for better health outcomes as the agency addresses many of the needs of the community of Newark that a provider may not be able to handle alone. Moving forward with my career, I know I will value the services that agencies such as EPPC have to offer to guarantee I am striving to provide the best patient-centered care.”

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What’s on Your Plate

Student Interns:
Lacey Magee, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Chukwunwike Okafor, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Academic Preceptors:
Sonia Laumbach, MD, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Karen Lin, MD, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Community Preceptor:
Susan Stephenson-Martin, MS, CD/N, Middlesex SNAP-Ed /EFNEP

The Community Site:
The New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) is a USDA-funded cooperative extension program aimed at improving nutrition and increasing physical activity among SNAP-eligible audiences. This is accomplished through the provision of evidence-based nutrition education offered through numerous public health approaches and community-based projects to increase nutrition knowledge and food security. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at NJ SNAP-Ed of Middlesex County delivered nutritional information by teaching lessons at summer camps and while tabling at food pantries. The interns also had the opportunity to explore many factors that may affect community members’ ability to access available nutrition-related resources. The interns put together and taught SNAP Education lessons for summer camp students. Each camp provided new challenges and rewards, and each encounter was an opportunity to learn and deliver health information in the community.

Personal Statements:
Lacey said, “Through Bridging the Gaps, I was able to get a tour of the city of New Brunswick and see areas I never had seen even though I was a Rutgers undergraduate, I was able to see cultural differences firsthand as I taught camps in cities all over Middlesex County, and I was able to learn more about nutrition than I had learned in my classes in order to teach it to children all over the state. Bridging the Gaps was a life-changing internship for me, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate. Bridging the Gaps has changed the way I see the community around me as well as the way I am living each and every day. I have a deeper understanding of differences in populations of differing income levels, and I learned how to teach information to people of all different literacy and medical terminology understanding levels. Although in the first few days on the job I was unsure if this was how I wanted to spend my summer, I am so glad I stuck it out to the end and experienced everything this program had to offer. I look forward to implementing the skills I acquired this summer into my studies in my second year of medical school, and I know that being an intern for Bridging the Gaps has made my summer incredible, and changed my life forever.” Chike said, “The Bridging the Gaps experience was a rewarding opportunity that gave me a chance to learn about the New Brunswick community and increase my appreciation for nutrition. Throughout the program, we were exposed to a series of speakers and activities that taught us the rich history of New Brunswick. Through the perspectives and knowledge passed on to us, we learned about community organizations, challenges in the community and the efforts being made to overcome those challenges. I learned more about New Brunswick than I’ve ever known in my five years attending school there. This experience allowed me to further understand the intricate network of connections present in each community, emphasizing that cooperation between different professions is important for fixing community issues. In addition, through teaching nutrition, I was able to learn some of the factors that may prevent community members from accessing healthy food. This internship has taught me invaluable lessons that I will use as I continue in my career. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in Bridging the Gaps.”

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Teaching Science in Summer Camp

Student Intern:
Nilufar Ernazarova, Rowan University, School of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Bernadette West, PhD, MA, Rutgers University, School of Public Health

Community Preceptors:
Antonio Vega, UrbanPromise
Siomara Wedderburn, MSW, UrbanPromise

The Community Site:
UrbanPromise is a faith-based, nonprofit organization located in Camden. Its mission is to equip Camden children and young adults with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth and Christian leadership. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern at UrbanPromise taught the Discovery summer camp class to groups of fourth- through eighth-graders. The Discovery class was structured to introduce chemistry, biology and physics through a series of science experiments. The intern also worked with college instructors to tutor teenagers employed as “street leaders,” who help with the everyday functioning of the program, in math.

Personal Statement:
Nilufar said, “Prior to starting medical school, I served under AmeriCorps as a health educator and worked with some of New York City’s most vulnerable populations. That experience left me wanting to work more closely with youth in a teaching role. Through BTG CHIP, I came to assume that direct relationship in teaching the kids science. What made this experience especially beneficial was it gave me the opportunity to develop a comfort level in working with young kids and a sense of confidence in assuming a role as an information provider. While in medical school, it is hard to get a sense of how to interact with real patients when your patient-provider interactions are limited to cadavers, standardized patients and looking over the shoulder of your upperclassmen, residents or attendings in real clinics.”

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An Initiative in Primary Care—Group Visits for Patients Living With Diabetes

Student Interns:
Jonattan Morales, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Daniella Olan, Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Academic Preceptors:
Mary Bridgeman, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP, Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy
Sonia Laumbach, MD, Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Community Preceptor:
Douglas Bishop, MD, Zufall Health Center FQHC

The Community Site:
This health center offers myriad opportunities for a fluent Spanish-speaking student to work with the medical director, Dr. Douglas Bishop. Dr. Bishop cares for a large group of economically disadvantaged patients, including legal and undocumented immigrants. Projects at Zufall are shaped based on the student’s skills and interests. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Educational Advancement/Literacy; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns were involved in a project to help patients manage their chronic illness (diabetes) by providing information in areas such as nutrition, oral health, pharmacy, and foot and eye care. Twice during the program patients were seen by a health care provider, who assessed their blood sugar levels, hemoglobin A1c and medical history. The interns set up two groups for each visit and recruited patients to the groups based on language preference (either Spanish or English). The interns helped facilitate each session and collected and distributed information. This program gave each student intern instrumental insights into the needs of the community and served as a learning experience for their future practices.

Personal Statements:
Jonattan said, “Bridging the Gaps has truly opened my eyes to the great need that is in each community and the importance of taking measures to meet them. This program forced me to put myself in someone else’s shoes and see the world through their lens. One of the most important things I will take with me is that regardless of social or financial standing, each person has the right to a healthy life. There are times throughout our lives when we become so busy or distracted that we forget that there are people living in need. As future health care professionals, it is important to be constantly reminded that the people we will be serving have a story that far extends a routine medical visit. I am grateful that I have been given the privilege of being a part of this amazing program.” Daniella said, “This experience exposed me to an area of health care that is not learned in school, [but] is very important to address as a pharmacy student. It is important to take note of the communities that need our professional help the most, especially through education and prevention. I also believe that everyone, no matter his or her background, has the right to affordable and high-quality health care, which I was exposed to during my time at Zufall Health Center. Working with a student from a different field of health care was also a unique aspect of the program that I appreciated because we were able to use our different backgrounds in education to optimize success in our project. It also exposes us to interprofessionalism, which is an emerging yet important initiative that I will carry on as a future health care professional.”

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