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Medical Service Learning: Students for the Prevention of Kidney Disease

Students for the Prevention of Kidney Disease Event

Middle Sarah Lipp, MS2 and Right Ndubuisi Ahuruonye, MS4

Students for the Prevention of Kidney Disease (SPKD) is a medical student service learning group at IU School of Medicine (IUSM) with volunteer opportunities at kidney screening events in Indianapolis and cities near other IUSM campuses. Kidney screening is essential because early to mid-stage kidney disease is silent, and further progression can be irreversible. Two leading causes of kidney disease in the US are diabetes and hypertension. We help facilitate the connection of IUSM students throughout the state to different local events hosted by the National Kidney Foundation- Indiana. We had the opportunity to volunteer at the St. Philip Neri Church at a screening put on by the National Kidney Foundation and screened about 50 individuals.

During the event: People are screened for kidney disease risk factors and kidney markers such as BMI, blood pressure, Blood glucose, Urine protein, and Creatinine/ estimated GFR and then are counseled on the results, provided resources, and encouraged to discuss the results with their doctor or connect with free or low-cost clinics near their residence.

The screening is an indicator of the health at a discrete time. However, during patient counseling, I would gain some insight into their daily life, any major events related to or progress they have made with combating kidney disease. For example, the patient may have elevated blood pressure, yet the individual may have had life stressors that could explain their elevated blood pressure. The BMI table may indicate the person is overweight; however, the person’s story is that they had lost significant weight over the past 2 years. It was exciting to see how many people were interested in improving their health.

In Foundation of Clinical Practice at IUSM, we learned patient interviewing skills which were helpful for the event. For example, the population screened was primarily Spanish speaking, so I had the opportunity to work with a translator and apply some of the skills discussed in Foundation of Clinical Practice I such as being very aware of facing the patient instead of the translator. Also, we discussed motivational interviewing as a way of encouraging patients to take the generic health style modifications suggestion and apply it tangibly in their lives.  It was exciting to use some of the skills we discussed to converse with the individuals being screened. Many people understand they have a chronic condition such as prehypertension but admit that lifestyle changes are difficult. We discussed general things which improve kidney health and what one action could they do that would improve their health. Lifestyle modification is best done in manageable steps for patients. For example, in a discussion about how high salt diet increases blood pressure, a person had the idea of replacing their favorite a salty nut with the unsalted version to reduce high salt content food.

Want to learn more or volunteer at other events hosted by Student for the Prevention of Kidney Disease? Or do have an upcoming health event where you would like screening ?– email and we will add you to our mailing list

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Julian Dilley

Medical Student

Co-Chair of Students for the Prevention of Kidney Disease