Need a Lift?

I’m not talking about plastic surgery here. I am talking about a different type of lift, a lift in spirit. One that “lifts your face” by encouraging a spontaneous smile. And one that lifts your heart because there is so much good happening around you.

My first lift occurred on Friday, September 21. I had the opportunity to observe over 300 students coming together to provide community service all over the city of Boston, with support from more than 50 faculty members and staff of the IHP for the school’s third annual Community Day.

The logistics for this enterprise are staggering. Kudos (is there a word that exceeds kudos?) go to Dr. Mary Knab and her leadership of the IMPACT Practice program, the wonderful committee of faculty members and staff who support her, and the outstanding logistical wizardry of Heather Easter.

More than 45 teams of 6-8 students fed the homeless, painted and cleaned schools and health facilities, worked at the Boys and Girls Club, cleaned up a church garden and a couple of city parks, packed 11,000 pounds of food at the Greater Boston Food Bank, scrubbed boats for Courageous Sailing, and organized literacy and science events at preschools and the Charlestown Public Library. They provided soccer and tennis lessons for individuals with special needs, taught yoga to little children, packed lunches, painted rooms, and on and on and on.

Overall, I figure about 1,200 hours of labor were carried out around our community. Loaded with children’s books, water bottles, and boundless energy, our students and their faculty colleagues made a huge difference. New community connections were formed, while students experienced real world struggles and remarkable stories in our community.

I heard comments from the students like “this was amazing,” “thank you so much for letting us work together this way,” and “great to get to know the students from other programs than my own.” There is such remarkable promise and boundless good from a day like Community Day.

So, if you were there with the 350 or so of us who participated last week, you have already had the first part of your face lift. You probably headed home exhausted, grateful, and changed from the experience. If you couldn’t be with us for Community Day, I hope that you will “get a lift” by talking with your students, checking out the IHP Facebook page or the Institute’s website for pictures and stories. It will give you the lift you need as you start another busy year! See photos from Community Day 2014 on Google+.

I had a second lift on September 26, when over 200 students in Speech-Language Pathology, advanced practice Nursing, and Physical Therapy were joined by 32 babies and their families for Interprofessional Infant Development Day 2014.

Originally started a decade ago for a handful of physical therapy students, it has now grown to an interprofessional event with more than 200 students in PT, nursing, and speech-language pathology, and is about as much fun as you could imagine.

IHP alumni and Charlestown residents brought in their children under two years of age for observation, interaction, and physical assessment. Students and faculty join in interdisciplinary groups can be found throughout 2 Constitution Center, observing physical and motor development, cognitive and language skills, and parent-child interaction. With that number of adorable babies, the day is of course filled with giggles and surprises. I chuckle from seeing some of our graduate students totally befuddled by this mass of energy and spontaneity. Somehow, learning and laughing at the same time seems to make great sense during what we also call Baby Day.

It takes great logistics and planning for such an event to come off seamlessly. The faculty volunteers, assistance with scheduling, physical arrangements, communication with the community are the result of months of work. Led by Drs. Ann McCarthy Jacobson, Laura Plummer, and Patricia Reidy, along with many faculty facilitators, our students have a hugely valuable educational experience, learn about each discipline’s approach to young children, and leave with direct experience in observing very young children. See photos of Interprofessional Infant Development Day 2014 on Google+.

On behalf of the entire IHP community, I extend thanks to the tireless, creative, and energetic work of the faculty and staff leaders who share their gifts and knowledge in these formative activities for our students. I am delighted that our commitment to Interprofessional education (IPE) continues to be realized through important activities like this. Most of all, I am grateful to be an academic leader in a graduate school that works diligently to provide this type of “lift” for all of us.

Alex Johnson

Role: Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. In this role, I am most interested in education, research, and practice issues for health care professionals. I am a speech-language pathologist and had the great opportunity to work in the field of Communication Disorders as a clinician, administrator and an academic for over 25 years.

Posted in Provost Blog
One comment on “Need a Lift?
  1. Peter Cahn Peter Cahn says:

    You’re right, Alex. Seeing our students learning alongside each other while serving the community and assessing infant development was so rewarding. I look forward to integrating PA students next year!

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