This post is written by guest writer, Evan Gum, 1st year MEPN
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On a warm Saturday morning, April 29th several 1st year MEPN students elected to wake up early to participate in the San Diego County’s National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) fundraising walk in Liberty Station. The walk was an excellent culmination of their psych clinical rotation demonstrating how patient advocacy continues beyond the hospital setting, and providing first hand insight into the resources available throughout the community. NAMI is an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in communities nationwide as part of the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organizations. The organization works tirelessly to eliminate stigma and provide health services and support to the mentally ill using donations from fundraisers like the NAMI walk. Currently 1 in 5 Americans live with a mental health condition, and NAMI hopes to positively impact them all!
Sixteen students arrived at 7 AM sharp to check in and receive their official walk bibs as well as conduct a pre-brief with Professor Terri Fitzpatrick who was sponsoring the team. Several students even brought their family members who shared in the experience further promoting awareness of mental health issues. Before the start of the walk the group had the opportunity to engage with several of the sponsors of the event who set up booths along the starting line. Each booth represented a different community resource for the San Diego mentally ill population, which provided a diverse educational experience on the continuum of care.
From Left to Right: Karina Ochoa, Aya Dreze, Danika Johnson, Kristna White, Riley Cable, Ajay Kumra, Nichole Chung, Britney Aguirre, Katie Lam, Evan Gum, Krista Dwyer, Jean Hartley, Jason Vazquez, Sara Ryan, Rhonda Taylor, Abby Micieli and Terri Fitzpatrick pose at the start!
The walk itself was a 5K along the beautiful shore of Liberty Station, and featured walkers from several hospital settings as well as sponsoring groups. Along the way students met many health care providers and patient advocates who modeled the community focused care model. After breaking a sweat the group reconvened to discuss what they had seen and learned throughout the day. Each remarked on how impressed they were by the outpouring of support for the event and the unique community resources available! The day was filled with smiles, laughter, and a positive outlook on the future. Students were grateful for the opportunity to expand their clinical experience to the community setting, and left the day with a much greater knowledge of the field!
Special thanks to Professor Terri Fitzpatrick for sponsoring the event and mentoring the MEPN students!
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