Monday, February 6, 2012

Have health. Have hope. Have everything.

This past week, we had a fantastic guest speaker in our class—Dr. Veda Johnson from Emory University School of Medicine.  Dr. Johnson gave a great talk on health, education, and the effectiveness and benefits of school based healthcenters (SBHCs).  By definition, SBHCs are comprehensive school based health clinics that provide a variety of medical, preventive, and mental health services.  SBHCs are located in schools and work with the school and community in order to become part of the school’s infrastructure.  SBHCs are critical as they offer students with health services they may not have access to otherwise. 

As a graduate student in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, I am always interested in the piece about community.  How can individuals make a collective effort to be involved in the health of their community?   When Dr. Johnson was discussing the planning and implementation of the SBHCs she’s been involved with, she emphasized the importance of listening—identifying the community you’re working with, prioritizing efforts based on the community’s needs, and getting the community involved.  She stressed that by listening, SBHCs can build on the strengths of what already exists in communities—there is value in that, she said.  SBHCs aren’t limited to just providing medical services, they also encourage parents to participate in the health of their child as the clinics are housed within the schools. 

During undergrad, I used to volunteer as a dental assistant in the UC-San Diego Student-Run Free Clinic Project, specifically in the dental clinic at Baker Elementary School in south San Diego (which also offered mental and medical care).  The clinic is run by pre-dental students under the supervision of licensed dentists (who volunteer their time and services), and it offers many of the same benefits as SBHCs. This particular clinic is in a permanent mobile right in the center of the school’s blacktop.  Students weren’t the only patients at the clinic, many other family and community members would come to the clinic, as well.  It was such an amazing effort from families within the community, the school, and the university.  

Back then, I didn’t always make the clear and direct link between health and academic success—it’s only been in the years since I’ve been in the public health program, and had opportunities like being involved in C2C, that I’ve learned more about the many social determinants of health and all of the impacts that it can have on children, students, families, and communities. 

Dr. Johnson’s talk emphasized that there are numerous links between health and academic success for students.  But one thing she shared that particularly resonated with me, and I would like to share with others outside of C2C, is that “students learn best when there is hope.”

- Sahar Salek, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education


  1. So true -- and yet, as a behavioral sciences student, how much do you talk about fostering a sense of hope in intervention research?

  2. Not much. At least in my opinion, we don't talk about it as obviously and explicitly as we should be. As a BSHE student, I ought to be thinking about it much more actively and consciously. I think it's apparent when talking about community and empowerment; hope is a motivating factor, and fostering that kind of environment for a community is especially important when wanting to support people at the individual level, as well. Hope shouldn't just be the end product/benefit of a program or intervention that's already been implemented, it should begin at the earliest planning stages to ensure it's fostered, nurtured, and evident in the development and implementation stages, too. I'll definitely be thinking about it in a new perspective...