Each year, more than half of first-year medical students take time out of their busy schedules to learn about influenza and vaccinations and to take what they've learned into the community. They're part of the Flu Crew - a student-run organization that offers free vaccinations to people at Stanford and surrounding areas as a way to reduce the burden of influenza and improve public health. Since the program's inception in 2001, the student volunteers have vaccinated more than 25,000 people, bringing their services to campus hot-spots, as well as homeless shelters, churches and free clinics in the Bay Area.
In a story today, I discuss the Flu Crew - the largest medical-school program of its kind in the country - and the important public-health service it provides. I also describe how the program benefits the med-student volunteers by giving them early clinical exposure:
First-year students don't always have the chance to work directly with patients, but here they are taught and able to practice how to greet, treat and even thank patients. "Even in a one-minute interaction, you're learning to build rapport," said [second-year student Rachel Rizal]. "It's a good position to be in as a first-year."
For some, the program also validates their decision to enter a profession that revolves around helping others. "Flu Crew is a weekly reminder of why I am in medical school," one participant told [sec0nd-year student Rishi Mediratta] and Rizal last year.
Previously: School of Medicine’s new dean on the importance of health-care workers getting flu shots, Public health experts: Now’s the time to get flu shot and European experts debunk six myths about flu shot
Photo of co-directors Rishi Mediratta and Rachel Rizal by Norbert von der Groeben