23rd Annual MSMC Health Fair at the Boys & Girls Club
Fighting disparities
a potential impact on the underserved community in Madison, particularly in South Madison, because they will become aware of a lot of
preventive measures that they can take that hopefully will lead to great health outcomes. It also is a way in which the community sees
the students and people in the health care professions are really interested in reaching out and are interested in their health outcomes
including the environmental and physical things that really affect them.”
      Since last August, Sheila Roy and Tahlia Weis, the 2010 co-chairs for the event, have been planning for this year’s fair, which is
being held March 13, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club’s Taft Street location. One of the first orders of business was reaching out
to health organizations beyond the boundaries of the university.
      “It’s a really good opportunity to interact with the different community organizations in Madison, Weis said. “There are so many
services that are offered in Dane County. And it has really been enlightening to learn how much there is and even comparing it to the
different cities in Wisconsin that don’t quite have the services, the front-line services that are offered in Dane County. I still think that
there is a lot that could be done. That’s all part of the learning process in organizing a health fair.”
There is a lot to plan during the year. In addition to soliciting the participation of community health organizations, there is also the task of
recruiting and training approximately 150 student volunteers from the medical, pharmaceutical, nursing, physical therapy and other
health-related schools at the UW.
      On the day of the fair, the bottom floor of the Boys & Girls Club is transformed into a medical clinic. The gym floor is filled with the
booths of community organizations and then there are the different screening areas. “We have been offering preventive services,” Roy
said. “We do BMI screening, blood pressure, vision and cholesterol screening. We also offer community resources such as Badger Care
registration. We also have something for the kids. We work with them on dental hygiene, hand hygiene and an exercise fitness program.
This year, we’re actually focusing more on community resources. Usually we just focus on the preventative health services. But we just
wanted to bring in other community organizations to the fair so that people who come could actually find out what is in the community
and where they need to go for certain services like immunizations.”
      For those in attendance at the health fair, it is a win-win experience. “With the focus on health care reform, this is like the perfect
time to actually provide services to the uninsured,” Roy emphasized. “I feel like I can give back to the community. I can also practice
whatever skills I’ve learned here. I can actually make my presence be felt in the Madison community, not just by coming to medical
school. This way we actually let the Madison community know that we are here and we are here to help. We mainly serve those who are
uninsured and underinsured. We expect that we will mainly be seeing minorities. But it is free and open to the public. So anyone who
wants to come can still attend. It is good to have a regular check-up if you can afford it. With the health fair screening, you can find out
where your health is and if you need to go see a doctor, you will know what to do.”
      What is impressive about the members of MSMC is their socio-economic diversity and their universal commitment to serve the
underserved in Madison. And who knows what impact the health fair will have. When she first arrived at the medical school, Weis was
thinking about becoming a plastic surgeon. But now, she is tending more toward a rural practice when she completes her training. While
he said that she wants to live in a rural area, one cannot help but think that her heart has also followed where the need is. Right now,
the hearts of the members of MSMC is where the need is, in South Madison.

By Jonathan Gramling

      When students come to the UW School of Medicine & Public Health, it
can be a pretty isolating experience with the demands that their education
place on them and the “town-gown” divide that sometimes keeps
students in close proximity to campus during their educational career. But
in venturing out into the community, the medical students can also find
that the town can also contribute to their medical education.
      For the past 23 years, Medical Students for Minority Concerns as
sponsored an annual health fair, which allows medical students and other
health professionals in waiting to get real world experience in applying
their learned skills and knowledge to people in need of health services.
“It provides a way in which students at the UW School of Medicine and
Public Health can reach out to the underserved community in Madison,”
said Dr. Gloria Hawkins, a medical school advisor. “The enthusiasm that
students bring to this event can have a major impact on them in terms of
really providing health care, particularly preventative kind of measures,
to the underserved community in Madison. This health fair can also have
Tahlia Weis (l-r), Dr. Gloria Hawkins and Sheila Roy with
volunteers for the Medical Students for Minority Concerns’
23rd Annual Health Fair in the background