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Medical Students' Projects Take Them Into the Community

November 28, 2018
PURCH Students Project at MLK Food Pantry

UMass medical students in the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health track (PURCH) at the Baystate regional campus were embedded within community organizations this fall as part of their two-week population health clerkship.

They presented their projects to a standing-room-only audience of their peers, preceptors, and other faculty at the UMMS-Baystate campus on November 8, 2018.

The Quaboag Connector and the Role of Transportation in the Vitality of Rural MA Communities

Quaboag Connector Project Detailed in MassDOT Newsletter

"I had no comprehension of just how extreme the need for transportation was until I spent these last two weeks in the Quaboag Region," reflected Xu Wanlu.

PURCH Students at the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation:

  • Andrew Boylan
  • Afua Nti
  • Amanda Whitehouse
  • Lulu Xu
  • Caleb Noone

The Quaboag Connector is a grant-funded, low cost transportation system that runs in Belchertown, Hardwick, Monson, Palmer, Ware, Warren, Brookfield, East Brookfield, and West Brookfield.

PURCH students designed and implemented a short satisfaction survey for QC riders, and collected qualitative data on rider’s experiences using the QC to ascertain rider satisfaction with service, appropriate pricing, and suggestions for improvements.

 > Quaboag Connector presentation (pdf)

Addressing the Intersection of Food Insecurity and Early Childhood Development in Springfield, MA

Food Insecurity Survey Featured in Square One NewsletterSquare One considers itself fortunate to be selected for this study and to host the PURCH students.

PURCH Students at Square One:

  • Elisabeth McGovern
  • Emily Nuss
  • Prithwijit Roychowdhury
  • Poornima Manikantan
  • Daniel Wenzel

With about 30% of the Springfield population—44% of children under 18—living in poverty, food insecurity is a dominant issue. Square One hosts mobile food bank sites throughout the city.

PURCH students created a survey for mobile food back clients and designed an algorithm to identify their eligibility for SNAP benefits, and the need for a service to increase referrals to SNAP.

 > Food insecurity presentation (pdf)

Exploring the Diverse Needs of Families Utilizing an Emergency Food Pantry

PURCH Students at Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services:

  • Tatiana Petrovick
  • Alay Shah
  • Juliana Dixon
  • Kathryn Norman
  • Wendy Ma

The Mason Square neighborhood of Springfield, MA is a predominantly Black and Latino community that faces high levels of poverty and food insecurity. The emergency food pantry at MLK Jr Family Services provides food for more than 400 families each week.

PURCH students designed and implemented a survey in both English and Spanish to identify the health and social needs of families using the emergency food pantry.

 > Food pantry presentation (pdf)

Housing, Health and Wellness for Veterans

PURCH Students Revitalize Community Development Corporation:

  • Conrad Colton
  • Laura Schwartz
  • Kevin White

Hampden County has a higher proportion of veterans than the Massachusetts average.

PURCH students gathered data from a variety of federal and local agencies and analyzed it to look at veterans as a percentage of the total population, their gender identities, races and ethnicities, and rates of poverty. They also looked at housing issues, homelessness, home ownership and housing quality.

 > Veterans presentation (pdf)