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Medical Students Address Community Health Issues

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Many University of Washington medical students based in Spokane work in rural communities during the summer after their first year. One of their tasks is to identify and research important health issues in their adopted towns, then create posters that explain the problems and identify potential solutions.

Students shared their posters last week at Gonzaga.

Medical student Chelsea Denney spent a month last summer in Ellensburg. The Goldendale native learned there had been an increase in suicide threats and depression among high school students there.

“Recently my little brother had one of his peers commit suicide, so learning about that and then thinking maybe I could find something that could make a difference or at least make some sort of an impact was meaningful to me," Denney said.

Denney looked into the Ellensburg situation and found reasons to be hopeful. There are programs in the community that provide help to young people with mental health issues. And she learned that the local school district had secured grant funding to implement some of those.

“Which is exciting," she said, "because, in third year, I will be back in Ellensburg doing part of my rotation, so I’m hopeful that I can volunteer and maybe be a leader in one of those programs.”

Throughout this session, Denney stands by her poster and explains her findings to people who wander by.

Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR
UW medical students and Gonzaga undergraduate students explain their research projects at a recent poster event at Gonzaga.

Dr. Allison Lambert from the UW School of Medicine says students pursuing clinical careers get a chance to learn about research and to share their knowledge. This poster session also highlights UW’s growing health partnership with Gonzaga.

“This year we have 17 Gonzaga undergraduate students who are also presenting their findings from the various scientific undergraduate programs and then also from the doctorate nursing anesthetist programs, so we’re excited to have more Gonzaga students this year," Lambert said.

A handful of Gonzaga students have also gone to the UW to present their posters.