Physical Therapy and School of Pharmacy students conduct vital screenings for older adults

students and faculty at vital signs screening event
Students were awarded a grant from the Center for Excellence in Collaborative Education to hold a vital screening event for older adults

Students and faculty from the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, School of Pharmacy, and Center for Excellence in Aging and Health (CEAH) recently held a vital screenings event for more than 40 older adults from Westbrook Housing and the UNE Legacy Scholars program.

DPT students conducted vital screenings for blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and gait speed.

​“This event provided our first-year students with an authentic experience to gain a deeper appreciation for the skills needed during a clinical encounter,” said Elizabeth Cyr, PT, D.P.T., PCS, assistant clinical professor of Physical Therapy. “For instance, they were able to practice their communication skills not only with patients but with another member of the professional team.”

As the results were shared and interpretated for those gathered, School of Pharmacy students discussed the impact medications may have on those results and the overall health status of the participants.

“Volunteers were asked to either bring in their medications or a list of their medications,” explained Sydney Springer, Pharm.D., M.S., BCPS, BCGP, assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy. “Pharmacy students ask explicit questions about how they take their medications and if the volunteers had any questions or concerns. The students then worked directly with a clinical pharmacist to help communicate a plan to the participant. They got to learn first-hand how complex medication regimens can be. Typically, we will make recommendations for participants to speak with their primary care provider about medications if we find an interaction or concerning medication that may contribute to side effects.”

Georgia Karmue (D.P.T., ’24), Alyssa Totzke (D.P.T., ’24) and Benjamin Pastore (Pharm.D., ’24) were awarded a grant from the Center for Excellence in Collaborative Education (CECE) to help run the event. In addition, they created a student survey to gather feedback on the value of interprofessional learning experiences.

“Besides offering a free vitals screening service and medication review, the biggest contribution this provided to the older adult participants was an opportunity to meet the future of health care,” Cyr commented. “It was wonderful to hear and observe the many conversations happening, which benefited both the students and participants. For many of the older adults, they were appreciative of the opportunity to visit campus and socialize with a group of primarily young adults.”

More than 70 students took part in the event, which was held at the building that houses UNE North.

“This was a wonderful inter-center, inter-professional, and service-learning partnership,” stated Tom Meuser, Ph.D., director of CEAH. “Hopefully it is something we can repeat every year.”

Student screens participant
Pharmacy student reviews medications
Participants head back to Westbrook Housing