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Student Spotlights

More than 500 people benefit from this year's Terre Haute Community Health Fair

Feb. 21, 2013

IU School of Medicine-Terre Haute students understand the need to improve the health of individuals from all walks of life. This knowledge is brought home each year through participation in an event that brings health care to individuals who might not be able to access these resources.

The eighth annual Terre Haute Community Health Fair, hosted by students from the IU School of Medicine-Terre Haute, took place Feb. 17 at the new Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club. The student-organized event had over 50 volunteers, mostly first and second year medical students along with over 90 exhibitors.

student helping at health fair

Milan Patel, a first-year medical student at the IU School of Medicine-Terre Haute, performs a blood pressure check at the eighth annual Terre Haute Community Health Fair.

“I think it’s very important for medical students to put on this event in the Terre Haute community,” said Brandon Tanner, a second-year medical student and advertising chair of the Terre Haute Community Health Fair. “It gives us a chance to gain practical experience, allows us to give back to the community, and lets people know that the IU School of Medicine has a presence in Terre Haute.”

Established in 2005, the fair has grown substantially every year and has come a long way toward having a positive impact on the health and health education of individuals in Terre Haute. Organized and directed by second year medical students and carried out by both first and second year medical students, the fair assisted over 500 people this year. Services provided included vision screenings, blood sugar tests, body mass index tests and massage therapy sessions.

The health fair which grew from a service learning project to a full-blown community health fair would not be possible if it weren’t for the dedication of the medical students who help organize it. Their desire to help the community and become more involved led the fair to become what it is today.

“These health fairs are very important not only to west central Indiana, but east central Illinois too,” said Taihung Duong, Ph.D., associate dean and director of the IU School of Medicine-Terre Haute. “Many individuals in these rural areas today are underserved and this event gives them an opportunity to receive health education and become informed on initiatives they can take to live healthier lives.”

In addition to free health screenings, event visitors gained healthy living tips on topics such as mental health, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual violence prevention and osteoporosis which were provided by local, state and national organizations.

The fair also offered numerous activities for children to educate and excite them about healthy lifestyles and behavior. All individuals from the community were encouraged to attend, participate and connect with the Terre Haute community and those who serve it.

“Obesity is a major problem today, especially in children,” Tanner said. “By teaching children about healthy eating habits and recreational activities at a young age, they will be able to learn the importance of their health and hopefully carry out healthy habits their entire lives.”

The ultimate goal of the event was to educate community members on the importance personal health and the role it plays in the lives of all people living in the Wabash Valley region.

The IU School of Medicine-Terre Haute currently educates more than 60 first- through fourth-year medical student with the majority of student being in their first two years. The school located on the campus of Indiana State University, now hosts third- and fourth-year medical students in the rural medicine program aimed to train physicians in serving rural communities.

“By 2014, 60 percent of Americans will live in urban areas, while the other 40 percent will live in rural areas,” Dr. Duong said. “This 40 percent is composed of primarily farmers that feed the rest of the country. We must ensure that our agricultural providers are healthy and our Rural Medicine program is training physicians to do just that.”

Dr. Duong added that providing care in rural areas is a much more personalized style of care that students take great pride in through events like the health fair.

“In rural communities it is much more than seeing a doctor, it’s about building relationships,” he said. “Fairs and initiatives like the ones at the IU School of Medicine allow people to learn about healthy lifestyles and give our students the opportunity to educate not just learn.”

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