St. Cloud CentraCare Health System celebrates spring every year with a free Women’s Health 101 Expo, and Minnesota School of Business (MSB) health care management and medical students are an active part of the program. The day includes education stations, presentations, a keynote speaker and health screenings.
Health Care Management Program Chair Deb Berglund is proud of the work her public health and microbiology students did at the expo. In groups, each class had to research a topic—nutrition, exercise, stress management and proper food handling—create a display board, and prepare a handout for the event. At the expo, students had to discuss the topics with attendees. In addition, the microbiology students provided blood pressure screenings for willing participants.
Working at the expo helps students connect the dots to their classroom learning, observes Berglund.
“In Public Health, we discussed how the lifestyles people lead today have turned our focus in health care from treating acute conditions to treating more chronic, or lifelong, conditions,” Berglund said. “One group that focused on nutrition had a visual where they put a bottle of Mountain Dew on the table and then stacked sugar cubes in front of the bottle to show how much sugar is in that one bottle. I heard many comments from attendees that day about the impact of that visual. In fact, a couple of people even took pictures.”
Health care management student Lisa Marquis appreciated the opportunity to educate others but also gained experience for herself.
“I was able to talk with people that stopped by our booth about the importance of stress reduction. I practiced [the skill of] public speaking and that might come in handy someday if I go into public health,” she said.
Medical assistant student Brittney Larson valued the hands-on experience of the blood pressure checks.
“I honestly did over 70 in a time period of two and a half hours,” she said. “I learned that I love the career field I have chosen to go into. Teaching patients and taking proper vitals was a good way for me to experience what I will be a part of when I go out into the real world get a job at the clinic. This is what clinic life is like.”
Connecting with the community is a large part of the applied learning goal, explains Berglund.
“For my health care management students, interacting with the community helps improve their level of professional communication, and I saw this in the students as they interacted with the public that day. In their careers as managers, they will frequently be called upon to make presentations, interact with professionals and the public, and engage in training for employees as well as patients and the public.”
And the benefits of community engagement are far-reaching, notes Medical Assistant Program Chair Lisa Smith. “The students were put into a professional environment that they will be working in, and [they will now] be able to network.” Furthermore, she adds, “The students were able to see the diversity within the community that they live in and use interpreters in some cases.”
This event marked CentraCare’s 13th year of Women’s Health 101 Expo. MSB staff and students look forward to becoming a part of its annual tradition.