Forty-two members of the community showed up on a Saturday to the BCOM Campus for the first annual Student Osteopathic Surgical Association Health Fair. “The age range of those that attended ranged from infant to the elderly, so we encompassed a wide group of community members. Despite the NMSU bowl contention football game that drew large crowds and occurred around the same time, the turnout was respectable for a first event,” explains SOSA member and BCOM student Megan Sofka.
The event was open to the public and particularly geared toward indigent and uninsured members of the community who may need basic healthcare screenings. Other BCOM student groups including the American Women’s Medical Association, the Geriatrics Society, the Student Osteopathic Internal Medicine Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Student American Academy of Osteopathy, and the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians joined the SOSA students in providing full health screenings under the guidance of seven licensed attending physicians who were also onsite for the event. Separate clinics for men, women, children, and geriatric patients were set up in the BCOM classrooms and information and resources were available on dental health, hygiene, health insurance opportunities, and other health-related concerns.
“The SOSA Club decided to host the event to let the Las Cruces and border community know that BCOM’s mission is to alleviate the disparities that exist for people trying to seek quality healthcare,” Sofka explained. “Specifically, the osteopathic medicine profession provides an inclusive and comprehensive approach, which BCOM students hope to exemplify in the border region. This health fair provided an introduction to the medical students of BCOM to the local community and an opportunity to interact and raise awareness on the importance of preventative medical care. Since BCOM is a new medical school, along with osteopathic medicine being a new medical perspective in New Mexico, we wanted to reach out to the community and let them know BCOM and it’s medical students are here to help them reach their health goals.”
The health screenings were all provided at no cost to community members as this event was funded through a humanitarian grant provided by the American Osteopathic Foundation. Sofka said many of the attendees were curious to the see the school firsthand and meet some of the students. Many were also interested in the osteopathic manipulative medicine and therapy aspect, something most had never seen or experienced before coming to the health fair.
“Numerous community members came up to me stating that they often drove by the school and were intimidated, however, after coming in and visiting with us, they felt more welcome and eager to learn and receive the services we provide,” Sofka added. “Before the event, we received messages over social media from eager people willing to travel from places like Deming for the free services. For them to walk into a building that seems large and intimidating, and then ask for medical services, means overcoming personal insecurities. From that perspective many of us felt honored and privileged to meet community members that were that brave.”