Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed) implemented relevant Kalamazoo County health education programs. For instance, Vaccine Community Team Champions partnered with inner-city community organizations – Mothers of Hope, El Concillio and Hope thru Navigation – to provide vaccines and vaccination education for Kalamazoo’s diverse patient population, including those who are unhoused.

Meanwhile, WMed medical students received real-world experience led by WMed faculty Dr. Cheryl Dickson, Associate Dean, Health Equity and Community Affairs and Associate Professor, Pediatrics, and Dr. Matt Longjohn, Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine. In total, 95% of the community members who attended our events received vaccinations and others learned more about the misconceptions of the vaccine from medical students.

Indeed, WMed students are working with grassroots organizations to create culturally responsive messaging aimed at providing education about the COVID-19 vaccine and addressing hesitancy among many in the Black and Hispanic communities, thereby encouraging them to receive the vaccine. According to Dr. Dickson: “This work is going to help the students be better providers in the future as physicians and they will learn what it means to be able to communicate more effectively with patients from diverse backgrounds who might not have as much trust in the healthcare system. That’s really what will help in the improvement of health outcomes.”

For more information, visit www.med.wmich.edu