When medical student, Nick Rasmussen, was tasked with coming up with a project that would benefit his local community, he immediately knew what issue he would tackle.
Nick is a second year medical student at the University of Washington, taking part in the school’s Rural Underserved Opportunity Program (RUOP), in which medical students design a project that addresses health needs in their local communities. “One thing I noticed with my experience in medicine is that parents bring their children to the doctor when they are sick, but very few can give details whether their child has a fever or not. Many households do not have working thermometers, and often resort to the ‘hand on the forehead’ technique” Nick explained. With the end goal of increasing fever education and the use of thermometers, Nick worked tirelessly this summer to acquire thermometers and create Fever Facts Cards to distribute to low-income families throughout Whitman County. He hopes that Whitman County will eventually be the most “fever-educated” county in Washington State.
Why Whitman County? Nick is part of Idaho’s WWAMI Medical Education Program; a partnership with the University of Washington School of Medicine that allows future physicians in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho to complete their first two years of medical school from their local school. For Nick, that’s the University of Idaho.
As of early September, his Fever Facts Cards and thermometers have been distributed to all Whitman County food pantries, public health centers, and the Palouse Free Clinic. The Fever Facts Cards will also be distributed to mothers who have recently given birth at Pullman Regional Hospital through Neill Public Library’s hospital literacy packets.
“Knowledge is power, and particularly when it comes to children's health, getting them the best care and tools possible is extremely important. When parents are empowered with this knowledge they can do what's best for their sick children” he explained.
His project has since been nominated for the Roger Rosenblatt Community Health Award, and was selected to represent the RUOP at the Western Student and Resident Medical Research Forum conference in January 2018. The project’s abstract will also be published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine.
Nick expressed his gratitude to the many community partners who contributed to the project’s success, including Pullman Regional Hospital CEO, Scott Adams, for his involvement in the initial stages of planning, and for generously donating 750 thermometers to distribute to families who could not afford them.
“If this helps one confused parent or one sick child get better care, it's been a success”, said Nick.
Nick Rasmussen, second year medical student
Nick thanks the following community partners for collaborating to improve the health of Whitman County Citizens:
· Whitman County Public Health, Troy Henderson, Director
· Pullman Regional Hospital
· Community Action Center, Jeff Guyett, Executive Director
· The Palouse Alliance for Healthy Individuals, Families, and Communities
· Colfax Thrifty Grandmothers
· The Council on Aging and Human Services
· The Palouse Free Clinic
· Palouse Medical, P.S.
· Neill Public Library
· J&H Printing