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Health checks for students, by students

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Students don't exactly have areputation for being health conscious. Fast food, erratic sleep and binge drinking is more likely to come tomind than fruit & veg, exercise and responsible drinking.  But the latter is exactly what around 50 pharmacystudents (including myself) from the University of Reading have been campaigningto their fellow students from all disciplines who, somewhat surprisingly, come by choice.

Every Wednesday afternoon for thelast six months, seven pharmacy students from a variety of years have volunteeredtheir time to the new ‘Health Checks for Students' project.  Supervised by a pharmacist or nurse, the project offers the health equivalent of an MOT, encompassing everything from cholesteroland blood glucose checking to psychological wellbeing.

Turnout from students has beenimpressive.  Around 30 students visit eachtwo hour weekly session, often meaning people have to queue.  Feedback has been positive: "A brilliantservice.  Well carried out.  Very friendly people who made me feel at ease.Very informative."

A lot of the advantages of theproject come from the fact that it is for students, by students.  Due to the age difference, health advice givenby healthcare professionals inevitably has elements of ‘teacher scolding child'.  This peer-based approach on campus helpsbreak down the mental block some put up when receiving lifestyle advice, potentiallyleading to better health outcomes.

The data on the impact theproject has had is currently being analysed, but several students have beenreferred to their GP due to high blood pressure or cholesterol readings.  Several with wellbeing concerns have alsobeen referred to the university peer support and counselling service.  Every student leaves with specific, action-orientatedgoals to help improve their health.

But it's not just those who visitwho benefit.  The pharmacy students whovolunteer improve their patient manner, lifestyle advice knowledge and gainvital practical experience.  It's plannedthat in the future the health checks will be integrated as a compulsory part ofthe pharmacy course.

The project shows that studentsare interested in learning about lifestyle advice - especially when it's sharedwith them, not preached at them. 

Health check students

Pharmacy students who contributed to the health checks project with their participation certificates.

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