UW News

July 14, 1998

Team of University of Washington health sciences students will visit Othello, Wash., area to participate in public service projects

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Eight University of Washington (UW) health sciences students, representing a variety of health-care fields, will visit Othello, Wash., Thursday, July 23, and Friday, July 24, to participate in several local health information and public service projects.

The students are from the UW schools of dentistry, public health, nursing, pharmacy and medicine, as well as the MEDEX Northwest physician assistant training program. They are members of SPARX (Students Aspiring to Rural and Underserved eXperience), a program to promote collaborative activities among students from all the health professional schools at the UW. This past year more than 300 UW students attended SPARX meetings and events. Some SPARX members are also students in a new UW inter-professional training initiative, called Health Sciences Interdisciplinary Partnerships in Clinical Education, which teaches a team approach to patient care.

In Othello, the SPARX volunteers will be among the presenters at the Columbia Basin Health Care Fair, hosted by the Columbia Basin Health Association. At their booth, the students will demonstrate tooth brushing techniques and provide information on how migrant workers can get medical help in the different regions where they work. The students will also give talks on prenatal care, water quality, and ways to avoid tooth decay caused by baby bottle feedings, and will play games with children to teach them about good nutrition.

The students also plan to go to nearby farms and orchards to offer health information and refreshments to migrant workers during their breaks. Among the topics they will cover are first-aid for minor skin cuts and how to protect the eyes from sun damage, dust and flying debris.

In the evening the students will visit migrant worker communities to distribute clothing donated by University of Washington students, faculty and staff, as well as supplies contributed by corporations. The corporate contributors so far are Cliff Bar, Champion Nutrition, Gatorade, and 3M; donations from other firms are pending.

Sergio Oliveras, who is studying for a Ph.D. degree in nursing at the UW, is the group leader of the Othello service project. The UW team includes: Norman Bunch, dentistry student; Jill Kramp, pharmacy student; Angi Mecca, nursing student; and Kim Emery and Barbara Mallory, both students in the MEDEX Northwest physician assistant training program. Janeen Ross, a fourth-year medical student who recently completed a six-month clinical training course with Drs. Richard and Randy Bunch in Othello, provided planning assistance.

The Area Health Education Centers and the various UW health sciences schools support the SPARX program, which offers a wide range of student activities including service projects like the Othello visit; evening forums on topics such as domestic violence, homelessness and living with disabilities; and field trips to health-care facilities in rural towns and inner-city neighborhoods.