By Wendy Sarubbi | September 30, 2013 11:37 am

Students at the UCF College of Medicine got some face-to-face primary care experience at the annual Caribbean Health Summit September 7 event as hundreds of attendees came for medical screenings and health care information.

Second-year M.D. student Christal Crooks volunteered at the summit and the Trinidad native worked with many adults who are trying to get their health back on track. “Anytime someone had a high blood pressure or blood sugar, they were sent over to our table,” Christal said. “We would discuss the effects with them and why they should go see their doctor to get it under control”

Sarah-Vaughn Dottin, a coordinator for diversity and inclusion at the College of Medicine, is of Bahamian descent and served on the planning committee for this year’s summit and helped organize student volunteers. “I think it’s a valuable experience because it allows the students to interact with the community,” she said. “It also lets the community see that the College of Medicine is truly the school for us all.”

The summit gives patients a chance to get educated on their health and learn about options if they have limited access to a physician. The 16 College of Medicine students at this year’s summit were able to talk one-on-one with patients about their specific healthcare needs. “We counseled a man who had very high blood sugar, but wasn’t taking his medication because it had run out,” Christal added. “We talked to him about the free health clinics where he could see about getting his prescriptions for free or cheaper.”

Health Summit attendees were also able to get prostate exams, flu shots and mammograms. Cristal says such services are vital, but she hopes to emphasize the importance of health follow-ups all year around. “I saw how many people who treat this annual health summit as their primary care, that’s their once-a-year checkup.” She said. “It makes me want to be the kind of doctor who has an open practice so they can come and get reduced services.”

The health summit volunteers are part of the medical school’s chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA.) The NMA is the nation’s largest organization of African American doctors and works to improve the health of minorities across the country.

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