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Students deliver “Medical Toolbox” in Christchurch

Monday, 21 August 2017

Student-doctor-talks-about-nutrition-image
A medical student gives healthy food advice during a session with people on probation.

Christchurch medical students are helping to improve the health of a vulnerable group by giving health checks and advice to people on probation.

The ‘Medical Toolbox’ initiative, developed by the Christchurch campus’ Department of Population Health, Canterbury District Health Board Sexual Health Clinic and medical education team is a New Zealand-first involving medical students and people on probation.

In this initiative, a group of fourth-year Christchurch-based medical students recently held clinics for people on probation. The clinics involved free sexual health screening, oral health screening, advice about available community services and affordable healthy eating.

"The interaction between people on probation and medical students was amazing to watch as they broke down barriers, had some laughs and learned together."

Department of Corrections Canterbury Service Manager Danna Knox says the clinics are of great benefit as many of the people which the service works with have, or are at risk of, poor health.

Jen Desrosiers, a lecturer with the Department of Population Health, and the convenor for this module at the Christchurch campus says many people on probation face structural barriers to health including cost, social stigma, a negative healthcare experience, or lack of transport.

“In turn, these barriers can lead to delayed presentation, increased morbidity and poorer outcomes. We want to facilitate a healthcare experience in this Toolbox clinic that overcomes these barriers and reduces health inequalities.

“The aim of the clinic was to provide reciprocal benefit to people on probation and to medical students. The interaction between people on probation and medical students was amazing to watch as they broke down barriers, had some laughs and learned together.”

It is anticipated more clinics will be held, including one focusing on education and testing for Hepatitis C. The Probation Service programme follows on from the highly successful “Sex, Bugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” programme run by the University’s Christchurch campus in Canterbury prisons.