August 24, 2017
The first time Karla Pagan (D.P.T., ’19) walked into the Milestone Foundation’s shelter to volunteer with the University of New England’s foot clinic, she admits she was nervous. “I was afraid I wouldn’t know what to do,” she said. “I just wanted to do a good job.”
Like countless other UNE students who came before her, Pagan jumped in and learned how to care for Milestone’s clients. The students wash their feet, inspect them for wounds, and provide them with new, clean socks. Pagan got over her nerves and has returned for every clinic since. “This is the one time when I leave the stress of school behind and I can be really mindful and present, focusing on each client and their needs. It gives me the opportunity to work on the interpersonal skills that will be so important in my career as a physical therapist.”
The Milestone Foundation operates Maine’s only specialized substance use disorder emergency shelter. UNE’s partnership with Milestone began six years ago and blossomed into the Westbrook College of Health Professions Office of Service Learning’s longest running program. Approximately twice a month, students from a variety of health professions at UNE attend the foot clinic, treating clients in the emergency shelter as well as the detoxification program.
“UNE has been a great partner for us, all the students and faculty are amazing,” said Milestone Director of Community Outreach Joe McNally. “The amount of care and compassion they show our clients is heartwarming. I hope our partnership continues for many years.”
The program gives students the opportunity to work with a population they may not have been exposed to before in a collaborative, team-based environment where they work side-by-side with student from other health professions. Denise Tso (D.P.T, ’19) says it has helped her to build interpersonal skills because the students are encouraged to engage in conversation with clients. She says it’s helped her learn the power of relating to people, no matter where they come from.
“This program has reinforced that as future health professionals, we want to serve people. We are here because we want to be.”
To learn more about the Westbrook College of Health Professions Office of Service Learning, visit www.une.edu/wchp/service/servicelearning
To apply, visit www.une.edu/admissions