In February of 2017, Julia Lorence attended the Mayo Clinic Transform conference in Rochester Minnesota. At this conference, she engaged with healthcare professionals from around the country. One particular physician was Dr. Bon Ku of Jefferson Memorial Hospital. He spoke about his current initiative in Philadelphia which inspires collaboration amongst non-profits, medical schools, undergraduates and healthcare providers to create real change within their communities. This inspiring model is something that Julia Lorence brought back to ASU. Julia has already spent countless hours working in the community setting up apartments and providing a welcoming environment to the refugee community in Phoenix through collaborations with Lifting Hands International, now Gathering Humanity. Though she was confident that the apartment setups and assistance were helping, she saw a huge opportunity to go one step further and empower the refugees through the improvement of their health.
That summer in July of 2017 Michael Sarvi, a newly matriculated first year with the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, went on a medical brigade alongside side several medical students. In addition to medical students, there were also undergraduates present from Arizona State University to serve as translators for the brigade. Among them was Chance Marostica who worked as a translator. This experience was very impactful on all of those in attendance and they were impassioned by their engagement with the underserved abroad, they were determined to find some way to engage the underserved within their own communities. After sitting next to each other on one of the bus rides in Nicaragua, they both realized that their ideas might be perfect compliments for each other. Soon after their return to Phoenix, Chance asked Michael to meet in a coffee shop to go over a business model-canvas. From this, they decided to move forward and try to develop the opportunity.
Fortuitously, Chance and Julia shared a biochemistry class in the Fall of 2017 and talked to each other about their passion for developing an engagement initiative in their community. Julia granted her insight on the refugee population and the need that they had and consequently within the month they had developed the first business model canvas of their student-run Clinic and they approached Michael Sarvi to see if they were interested in joining. The team decided to join forces and began slowly recruiting other members from their respective institutions.
Approaching the Administration
Each team member approached the administration of their respective college or institution. Chance and Julia approached the deans of the honors college of each of Barrett, the Honors College at West and Tempe. Dr. Herman and Dr. Ramsey. Michael Sarvi spoke to the school administrator Diana Smith for support.
Once both the ASU and MCSOM were determined to form some type of entity, the students were in a great need of advisement and mentorship. Through previous work at the West campus, Julia Lorence had been working with Dr. Lara Ferry. Both Dr. Ferry and Diana Smith became the first advisors to the organization and through their advisement and advocacy the student group gained lots of ground and legitimacy.
Assembling the Team
Both groups of students assembled the first students from their respective institutions. The result was the first five founders from both schools. From Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, there was Micheal Sarvi, Sheila Malekian, Shubhang Bhatt, Reena Yaman, Walker Asprey. From Arizona State University there was Chance Marostica, Julia Lorence, Aidan McGirr, Nyla Shah, and Ashlee Starr. Each student brought insight from their previous experiences and help contribute to the original structure and vision of the organization.
The First Engagements
In the summer of 2018 the REACT team worked with its first community partner, POTER (Providing Opportunities to Empower Refugees) inc. to conduct its first community survey. The team was able to interview over three-dozen heads of refugee families through interpretation on some of the health disparities in an apartment complex with over 400 refugees. REACT identified several topics to conduct educational workshops and got to work in their development. Within this first summer, the team organized over 10 engagement events at the apartment complex. These events ranged from community outreach (going to the pool, playing soccer, watching a movie) to educational workshops on health-related topics (dental hygiene, personal hygiene, postpartum depression, diabetes, AHCCCS).
The First Recruitment Class of REACT
Once REACT started to consolidate and gain funding and support from the administration, the support from the student bodies also grew. The Mayo Clinic School of Medicine decided to be on around 24 new members from its class and ASU began its first recruitment cycle. The first recruitment cycle for the Arizona State students was a challenge. There was a great need for more manpower on the team, yet it was important that the team was not overwhelmed with a high quantity of newly on-boarded members. Ultimately 6 highly qualified members were added to the team with the promise of the next onboard class being much larger.
Transition to Current State
As the team completed its final workshops with POTER inc. it became apparent that there was a need to conduct an accurate and effective community health needs assessment. If the team was going to effectively provide clinical services to the community it was important that it directly addressed the needs that the community has. This was conducted in order to develop a specific scope of practice for the future student-run clinic.
Additionally, it was during this time that the student group merged its interests with the Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation. Through the leadership and mentorship of Dean Karshmer, the students hope to develop complete medical licensure and a brick and mortar location to practice.