Since Project FIRST launched in August 2015, students from Shenandoah University’s Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing have volunteered with the 12-month screening and treatment program coordinated by Winchester’s Free Medical Clinic (FMC), that is working to detect and treat chronic diseases in the local community.
FIRST stands for Free Individual Risk Factor Screening & Treatment, and the community outreach program serves uninsured and underserved members of Winchester and Clarke and Frederick counties who are at risk of developing or living with chronic diseases. Screenings provided by FMC include cholesterol, body mass index, blood pressure and blood glucose testing.
“Shenandoah University nursing students provide tremendous value because without them, we would not have the manpower it would take to hold these events, as well as the education and support that they give to clients in the community and our patients at the clinic,” said FMC Executive Director Stefan Lawson.
The program’s goal is to reach 2,000 individuals through its community screening efforts, increasing opportunities for the diagnosis of diseases like diabetes and hypertension and bringing at-risk individuals into the continuum of care for treatment.
“I found great joy in working this event and screening,” said Caitlynn Costantino ’15, who will earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing via the university’s accelerated second degree track. “I chose to be a nurse to help people, and this was a great way to do this. I enjoyed providing information to people who can’t afford health care or even to people who don’t have enough time with their primary health care provider. This gave me a feeling that I could potentially improve someone’s quality of life or even help them achieve better health by providing the initial step to improving their overall health.”
Shenandoah students, across multiple disciplines, have also been involved with the FMC in many other ways throughout the years, via clinical rotations, bone density screenings, smoking cessation efforts, and pharmacy and mental health clinic support. In addition, Director of Shenandoah University’s Division of Physical Therapy Karen Abraham, Ph.D., recently launched a physical therapy clinic at FMC.
Project FIRST screenings will continue in 2016, and Lawson looks forward to bringing Shenandoah University public health and business students into the FMC fold as well.
“Our ultimate desire is to create an interdisciplinary experiential learning environment for health professions students to expose them to what community primary and public health care looks like and opportunities for the disciplines to work closely together to care for patients,” said Lawson.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, FMC will hold its final screening of the year in partnership with Concern Hotline and AIDS Response Effort, which will provide depression screenings and HIV screenings respectively. Tours of the clinic, located at 301 N. Cameron Street, Suite 100, in Winchester, will also be provided.
For more information on or questions about Project FIRST, please contact Stefan Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540/536-1681.