News at Medicine - January 2020 - Moments that Matter

Moments that Matter
January 28, 2020
Future doctors helping future patients
Sometimes knowing that you have somewhere to go for a warm meal where you’ll be greeted by a friendly face can make all the difference. Sarah Devereaux and Melissa O’Brien have seen first-hand that Thursday evenings are very special to a group of moms in the Momma Moments program at local non-profit, Choices for Youth.  
The third-year medical students are part of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Interest Group (OGIG), which consists of Faculty of Medicine students who share an interest in women’s health and the field of obstetrics and gynecology. The group’s goal is to provide medical students with opportunities to gain exposure to this field and to women’s health-related initiatives in our community.  
“Our mission as the OGIG is to provide extra-curricular educational opportunities for medical students,” said Ms. Sarah Devereaux. “Although focused on Obstetrics and Gynecology as a specialty, our goal is that the opportunities we offer fall under the umbrella of women’s health in general and do more than focus on clinically-related opportunities.”
In fall of 2018, the group contacted Choices for Youth to inquire about the program to see if there was an opportunity to get involved. The OGIG’s partnership with Momma Moments involves two activities. The first involves organizing volunteers to cook and serve the weekly meal two to three time per semester for the group of approximately 20 moms and 20 children. From purchasing the supplies, to preparing the food and helping to serve it, the students see the entire activity from start to finish. The second activity has the students providing a crafting session to the program’s children while the mothers participate in separate programming.
From left: medical students Sarah Manning, Melissa O’Brien, Suzette Rutihinda and Sarah Devereaux

Momma Moments and Family Reconnection Program Coordinator, Ms. Jeanie Piercey was involved in the establishment of the partnership and says that one of the greatest strengths of the student interest group is their passion to learn from experience and connect with the program’s participants.
“The students are flexible, creative, take initiative and are open to learning. They’ve gained a better understanding of food, poverty and the greater needs of vulnerable populations. Their additional involvement with the children of our program has enhanced the experience for mom and children.”
Providing opportunities for community engagement is critical in helping medical students to understand how concepts such as social determinants of health affect the populations that they will see in a clinical setting.

Much of their experience in medical school is focused on clinical aspects of medical practice. For example, learning how to take appropriate histories and perform physical exams. Their hope is that the partnership will enable students to appreciate the impact that psychosocial factors and strong social support networks can have on patient health. 

“It's such a privilege to be able to be invited to help group of people who may have rather complex social histories and current social situations,” said Ms. O’Brien. “The moms are so friendly and so inviting and we feel really lucky that we are welcome to sit down and chat with some of the moms and get to know them and learn more about the supports they need not just as a patient, but as a person.”
All of the medical students have expressed their appreciation for the partnership and Ms. Devereaux believes that the experiences will benefit them as they continue their medical studies to become future physician and health leaders in the community.

“From this partnership, we hope that students will leave with a greater understanding of the lives of the mothers and children who avail of this program, and therefore go on to become more understanding, empathetic doctors willing to advocate for patients.”
The program was funded by Memorial’s Quick Start Fund for Public Engagement, which funds projects that foster public engagement and collaboration.