Over the summer, members of the University’s Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) have worked with the Mobile Health Initiative to provide mobile vision screenings for underserved communities. Under the supervision of an ophthalmologist, the students performed vision screenings using portable devices that capture retinal images. They also helped with providing access to free prescription eyewear to those who needed them. This work is part of LMSA’s longitudinal project.
“As a first-year student class, we had spent a lot of time discussing our vision for our service projects, including the importance of doing something sustainable that would truly serve the community,” said Sydney Geiger, a member of LMSA. “This project is special to our group because many of us come from the Latinx community, speak Spanish, and have a specific interest in serving these communities. We appreciated that the Mobile Health Initiative is an established program with partnerships in the communities that it serves.”
Some LMSA students say they understand firsthand how impactful and helpful initiatives like these are to communities that face barriers to health care.
“It was very important for me to become involved with the mobile vision screening because the community that is predominantly served by them is Latinx and immigrants. This community not only struggles to obtain access to health care, they also face language barriers,” said Denise Quintanilla, MPH, president of LMSA. “As a bilingual first generation Latina, the struggles of this community were not new to me as my family had to depend on interpreters and free services growing up. I wanted to make sure my skills and experiences were put to good use.”
In addition to gaining hands-on ophthalmology experience through these mobile vision screenings, LMSA students say they also learned how to better serve and advocate for diverse communities.
“It is important that we as medical providers enter a community and serve them in a way that they truly need,” said Quintanilla.