A parent helps a child get their backpack on

Fostering Community and Support for Student-Parents in Health Sciences

Author
Isabel Margerie

Although attending university is often seen as a time for making new connections and friends, doing so as a student-parent can oftentimes be an isolating experience, especially for student-parents within the health sciences community who must balance intensive academic programs while also managing the needs of their families. 

Student-parents often face significant demands on their time, financial stress, and may be older than their peers, leading to a disconnect with other students due to their different life stages and priorities. The Interprofessional Student-Parent Community (ISPC) through the Center for Health Interprofessional Programs (CHIP) aims to address this issue by providing targeted support and programming that foster connections between student-parents and their families in the health sciences.

ISPC hosts several events throughout the year, such as a bowling night and women’s hockey games. Their recent ISPC Family Day at the Bell Museum event allowed ISPC to highlight a fun way for students to engage with their families on campus and create a sense of community among student-parents in the health sciences. 

Finding low-cost or free family activities as a student can be another difficult challenge that student-parents face, but ISPC fills this need by covering meals, parking, and other expenses so that families can relax and enjoy their time together. 

ISPC Advisor Melanie Soland, who works as a graduate student parent counselor for CHIP through a collaboration with the Student Parent HELP Center (SPHC), serves as a resource for information about child care grants, policies, and procedures that affect student-parents. She also supports the ISPC Advisory Board student group to ensure funding for ISPC events through grant opportunities available to student organizations. 

ISPC Advisory Board President Emily Cunningham says, “When students attend ISPC events, they are not only connecting with other parents but also getting familiarized with the path for requesting additional help and resources through the SPHC.”

After working in health care IT for a decade following her undergraduate studies, Cunningham began her medical school journey when her daughter was 10 months old. She shared that it is a common misconception that people must choose between going back to school or having a family, but with the help of ISPC and SPHC, parents can receive support that allows them to achieve both. 

Soland notes that the ISPC community is a positive presence in students’ lives, providing a space for students to keep each other motivated, lift each other up, and celebrate everyone’s successes. ISPC’s monthly lunch series gives students a forum to discuss the challenges of parenting and balancing school and to come up with shared solutions to challenges that arise for student-parents. The collaborative aspect of ISPC events helps prepare students for the teamwork and collaboration they will need as future health care professionals. In addition to family events and monthly lunches, the ISPC offers a bi-weekly newsletter and networking opportunities to keep student-parents informed and connected. 

Learn more about ISPC

 

 

 

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