The Office of Health Equity and Community Affairs supports initiatives for students, faculty and staff to outreach to the Kalamazoo community through partnerships with organizations and community leaders to champion service to populations with the greatest need and creating opportunities to work collaboratively to enhance the well-being of all members of the community, through an equity framework.
This is done through creation of programs that build bridges, and synergy for making an impact through health promotion, education and volunteerism. The number of organizations increase yearly and we continually seek opportunities to engage community leaders for work together that lends itself to listening, and valuing the community voice for their wants and needs.
Education and Outreach
- Engagement and Discovery
WMed’s Engagement and Discovery is a 17-month endeavor that begins for WMed students during their first year at the medical school. Students are required to log at least 45 hours of community learning during the 17-month span. Each student will be responsible for keeping track of and logging their own individual hours, and must obtain a minimum of 15 hours per term.
The service learning takes place at an array of sites and initiatives. Some examples include handing out free meals, volunteering at local COVID-19 vaccination clinics, or working with elementary, middle, and high school students as part of the Early Introduction to Health Careers (EIH) pathway program. In other instances, students have helped organize clothing drives for women and children or spent time helping to support the organizations’ after-school and child care programs for children of essential workers, as well as a plethora of other pertinent community initiatives.
This course is focused on efforts to equip students with the core concepts around healthcare systems integration and understanding the best ways to work with the community.
- Pathway Programs
In 2017, WMed launched EIH 1.5, a health career pathways program for 8th graders in Calhoun County, through a partnership with the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Battle Creek College Access Network, Lakeview Public Schools and Kellogg Community College. That year, a cohort of Lakeview Middle School students spent one Saturday a month during the school year discovering a variety of health careers and participating in hands-on educational opportunities facilitated by WMed students, KCC faculty and students.
Now the program is known as the Young Doctors program at Milwood Magnet Middle School, which began in Fall 2020 virtually with over 25 students and growing. The large group of 6th, 7th and 8th graders meet twice a month during the week with M1, M2, the middle school’s science teacher and a Day in-the Life speaker. The program has been newly funded by PNC bank.
Since 2014, more than 100 students from Kalamazoo Central, Loy Norrix, and Phoenix high schools in Kalamazoo have graduated from the EIH 2 pipeline program at WMed. The longitudinal initiative is WMed’s flagship pipeline program and is comprised of monthly Saturday Science academies held from October to May.
EIH 2 focuses on health sciences, math, and development of critical thinking and problem solving for 10th-grade students. The curriculum for the weekend science academies includes intentional, guided research, individual mentoring sessions, clinical and non-clinical speakers.
The EIH 2 pipeline program:
- Improves education for youth through educational enrichment and exposure to health careers.
- Decreases current STEM educational gaps for underrepresented students in the community.
- Over time, improves health disparities through education and leadership development that impacts the social determinants of health by affecting change.
- Is vital to the growth of well-trained, diverse health professionals who can serve the increasing health care needs of the population.
The curriculum for the weekend science academies includes:
- Presentations from health care professionals
- Application of clinical skills in our state-of-the-art Simulation Center
- Individual mentoring sessions
- Development of research and presentation skills
At the conclusion of the program, students will have the opportunity to explore the application of clinical skills in our state-of-the-art Simulation Center on a Saturday held in June. A recent partnership with Stryker and Gilmore has provided students with the exciting opportunity to learn about additional STEM careers.
- Minority Association of Pre-Med Students (MAPS) at WMU
The Minority Association of Pre-Med Students (MAPS) at WMU is an organization committed to creating a supportive network for underrepresented premedical students and increasing the number of culturally and socially competent physicians. Students interact with physicians and medical students and hear from those who have walked the “walk.” Students also gain more knowledge from current medical students and the their journey to become a physician.
- WMed/Mt. Zion Community Health Conversations
This program is intended to offer health information, including public health and prevention, centered around topics of importance to the community that represent current health status indicators and health disparities. These conversations are convened with input from key community partners for topics that concern the community. The conversations include diverse members of the healthcare team and questions are monitored and addressed throughout the program. Resource information is provided as well as contact information for further questions.
- Courageous Conversations
- Health Equity Summit
- WMed Community Events
- Homeless Health Initiative
This program delivers needed healthcare services to the homeless population. The program partners with two homeless organizations and it will expand to cover homeless that are in the streets by partnering with organizations that deliver basic needs services currently for this population. The homeless population has continued to grow with recent economic downturns and the needs are great. As part of our community engagement and partnership we can make a difference and bring needed healthcare services through our continually expanding services for the homeless.
Students are actively engaged as part of the student interest group Community Health Interest Group or CHIG and Street Medicine.
- Cradle Kalamazoo
As part of the collective impact to create health equity and decrease the infant mortality disparity for black infants, WM ed has actively engaged with Cradle Kalamazoo as a strategic partner for research, committees such as reproductive health, FIMR, health equity, safe sleep, and home visiting. Within local hospitals a health equity team is leading the way for systemic change led by Dr. Lisa Graves from WMed and leaders from Ascension Borgess and Bronson Healthcare.