The Family Medicine Residency Program at Riverside University Health System (Moreno Valley, CA) has a long-standing affiliation with the local school district via the H.E.L.P. program: Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Promotion. Through this relationship, our residents engage high school students in presentations and discussions regarding various health issues. The ultimate goal is to develop a new generation of community leaders for our patients and families in under-served areas.
The focus of the H.E.L.P. program in recent years was on developing the foundations of basic health knowledge. Past topics discussed through interactive workshops include: nutrition and healthy food options, creating healthy meals, exercise to maintain target BMI/blood pressure, motivational interviewing skills, and self-management goals.
In 2016, a senior resident from RUHS Family Medicine earned a scholarship to the American Academy of Family Physician’s Emerging Leaders Institute. That empowering experience helped bring a fresh perspective to our existing collaboration between the residency program and the local high schools: the renewed charge was to give students the tools and confidence to successfully advocate for health issues in their communities.
Our team researched existing standardized advocacy curricula nationwide, including Stanford University’s Medical Youth Science Program and Project SHARE at the University of Maryland; these extensive examples included dozens of full-scope lessons and activities to engage students in health advocacy. The key feature of our program, however, is the guidance and leadership by family medicine residents as student mentors. As such, we tailored the lesson plans to fit a reasonable time-frame within our residents’ schedules.
Our students and patients come from the same neighborhoods, schools, and communities. Because of this, we encourage our students and residents to take a "HEADs UP" approach to transforming their communities: HEalth ADvocacy UPstream.
Inspired by Dr Rishi Manchanda's “Upstreamist” movement, our family medicine residents seek to find the root causes of health issues that keep our patients from being the best versions of themselves. We help guide our students to investigate these barriers and promote healthy change with lasting downstream effects.
The scope of our program will expand to include a dynamic range of participants in the coming academic year. Our rising senior high school students will continue in their focused advocacy efforts, while also helping teach the rising junior class from their experiences in health advocacy. The community partnerships established during this inaugural year will serve as a springboard to increase our advocacy network.
Furthermore, we plan to include local medical schools and undergraduate pre-medical programs in the design and implementation of our projects. This will further enhance our pipeline into family medicine in the Inland Empire.