Public health students worked to integrate public health and primary care by connecting Help Me Grow Utah, a program from the United Way, with local primary care physicians.
Students in the BYU public health program have the opportunity to be involved in and lead projects that make a difference in the community.
In the health science emphasis, students in Dr. Novilla’s Health 495 class lead these kinds of impactful projects.
Help Me Grow Utah offers free services to parents and children including screenings for mothers and children, information about child development, a helpline for questions parents may have, and connections to other resources that parents may need. After the screenings, Help Me Grow sends reports back to the childrens’ doctors.
These services benefit the doctors because they give doctors a place to refer patients who have questions about their child’s development or behavior, and give doctors more time to help with other concerns.
The Help Me Grow team hoped to expand their connections with doctors and was excited when Johnson, Radmall, and Romo offered to help. The students worked to contact local pediatric physicians and physicians in OB-GYN clinics and sent the physicians a survey with questions about how Help Me Grow’s services might benefit their patients. Many of the doctors were unaware of the services that Help Me Grow provides and indicated which services would be most beneficial. By connecting Help Me Grow with doctors, the students were able to help the groups share resources and serve the community more effectively.
Kali Ottesen, the Director of Help Me Grow Utah, described what working with the public health students meant for her organization. She said, “It was particularly exciting for us. We loved what they added. We could tell they were passionate about helping our community.” Ottesen reached out to the students to work together on future projects and now Radmall works as an intern connecting maternal and newborn units in hospitals with the services Help Me Grow offers and will work as a TA for Health 495 in the fall.
For each of the students, the project was a meaningful opportunity to gain experience.
The project gave Johnson confidence that he will be prepared to work as a dentist and collaborate with other health organizations. He said, “It was a great confidence booster to be able to work in a real life setting with partners and turn in a successful project that the organization continues to use.”
Working with a public health organization helped Romo, a pre-med student, envision her future. She said, “Working with Help Me Grow really helped me solidify why I am interested in working with public health. This is the type of thing that I would like to spend my career or even my life doing.”
Radmall, who is also a pre-med student, was inspired by the project to pursue a career focused on service. He said, “One of the most impactful parts for me was getting this hands-on experience working with an organization that has the potential to do a lot of good. That’s what got me involved in public health in the first place, being able to help people living within our area.”
The project continues to benefit Help Me Grow and all the people they serve, as well as Johnson, Romo, and Radmall, who are prepared to serve communities with their public health training now and in the future.