Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Volunteering

November was a really interesting month! I had my first ever medical school interview, and we covered some of my favorite material in pharmacology, which is treatment of respiratory pathologies. The weather took a sudden change for cold and rainy this month, which brought with it a huge spike in the asthma exacerbations and pneumonia I see at work, and while I've previously been acquainted with some of the first line asthma medications such as albuterol and atrovent, it's been really fascinating to connect conceptual class material to patient presentations.

Aside from class and work, I've continued to participate in the Street Medicine project with Dr. Zhang, an emergency medicine resident at UMC, and we went out twice this month, four hours each night. The outings consisted of walks around the downtown/French Quarter/ferry terminal area, where many homeless/houseless people stay,  reconnecting with patients recently seen at local hospitals, following up on their discharge instructions and access to medications, continuing care, and offering assessments of chronic or new complaints. One of the patients we met had a low grade fever, a productive cough, and exertional shortness of breath for three weeks, and from class lectures I immediately connected his complaints to discussions of atypical pneumonia! He didn't want to go to the hospital though, so we referred him to Healthcare for the Homeless at the VA clinic.

The second night drew a large group of volunteers, including two Tulane second year medical students, Dr. Nixdorf,  one of the doctors from Healthcare for the Homeless, and a social worker from Unity House. We were able to meet up with many of the folks who stay under I-10 by Calliope and discuss options for getting housed, in addition to checking blood pressures and glucometry.

Besides Street Medicine, I've continued to volunteer with the public health organization Trystereo, distributing clean syringes to local injection drug users and discussing strategies to reduce infections. I recalled Dr. Dery's lecture on endocarditis as I spoke to one program participant about her recent hospitalization for bacteremia. November has also seen a large increase in overdoses among illicit narcotic users, and so I've been volunteering in a campaign to more widely distribute information on overdose prevention and treatment.

Lastly, my project to get an EMT educational scholarship for Sci High students is under way! I met with the careers counselor at Sci High again this month, and submitted a grant proposal to the city vocational education funding source, Job1, and I'm hoping to hear back from them so we can try to get this project under way!

November volunteer hours: 12
Total volunteer hours: 56

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