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MEDLIFE Chapter Spotlight: The Ohio State University
This blog is part of a series showcasing chapters that won awards in this year’s MEDLIFE Awards. Each week we will be talking to a chapter to hear about their keys to success. Find out how to start a MEDLIFE chapter at your school HERE.
The Ohio State University MEDLIFE chapter is committed to service and building relationships with other groups on campus and in the surrounding community. They hold monthly meetings which are not only educational but are hands-on and practical. They invite guests to speak to members about topics like suicide prevention or the heroin epidemic in Ohio, and have held countless educational seminars including CPR training, yoga classes, and pillow making workshops. These seminars allow their members to develop professionally and use these new skills to give back!
We recently reached out to MEDLIFE-OSU Chapter President, Elizabeth Adams, to learn about her chapter’s success.
In January 2017, MEDLIFE OSU sent over 30 students on a Service Learning trip to Cusco, Peru.
How did you start to work with MEDLIFE? Why did you choose MEDLIFE?
I joined MEDLIFE the first week of my freshman year when I accidentally stumbled upon the MEDLIFE booth at our involvement fair! Joining our university’s chapter was the best decision of my college career. After the first meeting, where I learned about MEDLIFE’s mission and the ways we were able to help lower income families both locally and abroad, I was absolutely hooked. What really made me dedicate myself to MEDLIFE was their commitment to serving communities longterm by providing year-round followup care, education on preventative medicine, and sustainable development projects that allow a community to thrive from within, rather than rely on constant outside assistance.
What new strategies have you used as President of your Chapter to gather support and inspire students to work with MEDLIFE?
I think that our Chapter has been able to gain the support of and to inspire students to work with MEDLIFE by sharing our individual stories. Whether it is at an involvement fair, through our chapter’s social media, or even just in casual conversation before lecture, the first thing I, executive board, and general body members mention about MEDLIFE is their own, personal experience and why it means so much to them. I think our chapter has had great success in this because we also provide opportunities for members to get involved with local outreach to the Columbus community. Whether it’s for a local food drive, a fundraiser that consists of petting puppies, learning about health disparities in the LGBTQ community of Columbus, or volunteering at an elementary school, we give our members something to talk about, even if it is done locally! Of course, mentioning that you got to climb Machu Picchu while assisting in serving thousands of patients abroad through triaging them, teaching children how to brush their teeth, and filling their prescriptions is also pretty cool
The Ohio State chapter keeps meetings engaging! Here, they are making pillows and cards for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
In your opinion, what is your chapterâ€™s greatest achievement?
I believe our chapter’s greatest achievement is having the ability for our members to feel involved in whatever way they are able to and would like to. Many students feel financial constraints on being able to attend brigades, especially regularly, leaving bulks of time with a potentially foggy idea on what to do with MEDLIFE. Our chapter provides members with local opportunities for fundraising, volunteering, and learning. Additionally, we try our best to vary the times of day and day of the week when activities occur, in case of scheduling conflicts for a particular time/day. Further, sometimes schedules simply do not have room for a longterm involvement with the chapter and we understand that! It is totally ay-okay to simply go on a brigade through our chapter, and we work to ensure such members get the needed info for them to have a wonderful time on brigade! It’s really all about making MEDLIFE whatever you want it to be, and our chapter works to spread this message!
What did you do to get people engaged?
We do our best to switch up meeting topics/ideas/styles to keep everything fresh! For example, we may have a meeting based on educating ourselves about a particular health disparity in our community led by a guest speaker. Then the following meeting may be a little more hands-on, such as making stress balls for children in a local orphanage. We also keep communication open between executive board and our general body members through surveys! This ensures that we are providing the content and the opportunities that our members are looking for MEDLIFE to provide them.
Members at a Kaplan Suture Clinic.
What is your most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE?
My most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE has to be my trip to Lima, Peru in January of 2016. One particular memory is from our last day working in the community, during the reveal of our completed staircase development project. I had been playing with a little girl, about 6 years old, then it was time to go. As we packed up, I noticed that the girl’s father was kneeling down so she could speak into his ear. He listened intently, as if he was trying to learn. He and his daughter went back and forth a couple of times, repeating the same thing back and forth. He then approached me, extended his hand, smiled, and said, “Thank you.” The language of love knows no barriers.
What plans do you have for the future of your chapter?
One of our chapter’s goals is to independently raise the funds for a development project! We also plan to continue to expand our local volunteer opportunities focusing on medicine, education, and development.
Do you have any advice for other chapters?
Always remember why you joined MEDLIFE. Remember the fire that started within you to inspire you to be involved with leadership within your chapter, and always work towards spreading that feeling to others. Specifically, keep communication open within the chapter and remember it starts with you! Always ask questions, collaborate with other chapters, and reach out to national!
Remember,“Individually we are one drop, but together we are an ocean.”–Ryunosuke Satoro
This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.
University of Connecticut
It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.
University of Toronto
I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.
Maclay High School
The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.
Nova Southeastern University
This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.
College of Charleston
Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.
University of Central Florida
Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.
University of Toronto
One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city
Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa
Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.
I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.
Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.
University of Georgia
As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.