Campbell medical students provide healthcare at Umoja Festival

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina – The Umoja Festival was held in Fayetteville on August 27th, and Campbell University medical students were on site providing healthcare to those in attendance at the annual African-American cultural festival featuring music, storytelling, cultural displays, dancers, and food.

 The medical students cared for more than 45 patients within 4 hours under the supervision of Dr. LaToya Woods, assistant professor of family medicine and osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) at Campbell and Dr. Don Maharty, regional assistant dean at Campbell.

Catherine Chan (CUSOM 2019), president of the medical school’s Global Health Club, coordinated medical student involvement in the event. 

“I wanted to offer an opportunity for students to practice OMM and interact with the community as well as the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center faculty and AHEC residents. I believe the best way to learn is through experience with real patients and volunteering is the best way to apply content taught in lectures.”

The CUSOM team provided OMM treatment to patients and worked alongside the residents to interpret cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure test results for patients.  Together, they counseled patients on how to improve their health.  The medical students are eager to volunteer because they continue to learn while providing care to the community.

“It was so valuable to see actual patients with true complaints that could noticeably be treated,” said Chan.   “In class and lab, we are told to look for specific somatic dysfunctions that are so subtle that it’s difficult to comprehend. When we’re out in the field practicing our skills, we are interacting and connecting with patients who have been experiencing discomfort for years – to be able to hear their stories and know that we are able to relieve their discomfort even a little bit is so motivating and inspiring.”

“We spread awareness of the osteopathic medical field and witnessed at least 46 patients who directly benefited from OMM – a few patients were so impressed by their treatment that they requested referrals to DOs for further treatment.”

The supervising faculty chose to volunteer with students at community events like the Umoja Festival because they are committed to serving the underserved and training physicians to incorporate serving into their career.

“Helping the underserved should start at the earliest level of medical training,” said Dr. Maharty, “The students get energized and are excited to put into practice what they’ve been learning in their early clinical years.  It was awesome to see three classes of CUSOM students working together and teaching/learning from one another. The 2nd and 3rd years took charge of the patient encounter and encouraged the first years to get involved.”

Campbell medical students and faculty are looking forward to offering medical care at the Farmworker’s Festival in Dunn next month.

“I always love to get to know the local community through these events,” said Dr. Maharty.  “I laughed and made some new friends.”