What I’ve been up to these last few months…

My host site is the Erie Amundsen School-Based Health Center and we serve the students of Amundsen High School. As a health center, we are able to provide quality primary care and access to resources to the diverse students of this school. As a Health Educator at the Erie Amundsen School-Based Health Center, my role is to ensure that students feel empowered to take control of their own health. My philosophy as a Health Educator is to help students stay in school and graduate. How this relates to my role as a Health Educator is that I strive to provide students with quality health information so they can make smart and evidence-based decisions about their health, which in turn will keep them in school. By serving with the variety of providers at the Erie health center, we are able to accomplish our goal every day.

Some of the services the health center provides include primary care from the qualified team , comprehensive health education, and accredited behavioral-health counseling. Along with the help of the providers at the Erie-Amundsen School Based Health Center, I coordinated the Amundsen Flu Shot Initiative. With this project, we hope to administer as many flu shots as possible to students and increase general awareness about the benefits of getting vaccinated and protecting oneself during the flu season. What I hope to achieve with this project is to reduce the amount of students missing school from flu related complications and also to gather information on the students’ understanding of the flu shot.

Unlike most, I consistently enjoy public speaking. A major aspect of my service is providing information on health topics to an audience consisting of students and the school teams. It has been a privilege to introduce imperative education on health topics to this audience. A highlight of my service experience has been using these presentations to inform the patient population I serve which typically leads to meeting with students one on one that seek more instruction. I meet with these students one on one as their “teammate.” By taking on this supportive role, I can provide education and develop a tailored health plan to students for various needs from mental health to nutritional health goals. My passion to directly serve people has been exemplified through this experience because I get to make connections with people and provide them with critical education so they can have an overall healthier lifestyle.

The various trainings and in-service opportunities through National Health Corps Chicago have made me a more competent Health Educator. These experiences have allowed me to gain insight on the various health disparities and social determinants of health which influence the climate of healthcare in metropolitan Chicago. As a result, I’ve been able to make better connections with the patients I serve which leads to better patient satisfaction and outcomes.

This blog post was written by NHC Chicago 2018-19 member Vivek Panchananam.

Vivek is a Health Educator at Erie Family Health Center - Amundsen.