University of Michigan Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program – Barger Leadership Institute

University of Michigan Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program

The Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP) is a student-run organization founded in 2008 at Harvard and has since spread to over twenty universities, including the University of Michigan. Our chapter’s main goals are the professional development of student members and community outreach. We provide opportunities for pre-health students to learn from healthcare professionals and to practice clinical exams. We partner with physicians and community organizations to provide free health screenings and education to underserved populations. 

Our organization received a grant from the Barger Leadership Institute (BLI) in 2018 that helped us expand our community outreach efforts and screen over two hundred participants as well as to host new events like our kidney dissection. This year, with BLI’s help, our goal was to develop new partnerships and host eight screenings, providing healthy meals at some of these screenings in metro-Detroit. 

This year, we held screenings at the Ann Arbor YMCA, the Islamic Institute of America in Dearborn, Washtenaw Community College, Pineview church in Ypsilanti, and the Masjid Al Falah in Hamtramck. At these screenings, community members received free testing from trained KDSAP members including: blood pressure, blood glucose, BMI measured, urinalysis, and consultation with a University of Michigan physician. 

At our Pineview church and MasjidAl Falah screenings, we provided meals for our participants. We also had a social worker at our screenings to provide information on nutrition and chronic conditions, as well as to guide participants to free clinics for follow-up care. We hosted multiple on-campus events such as clinical trainings, a physiology jeopardy night, and an MCAT/medical school admissions panel led by senior members. 

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to suspend multiple on-campus events and screenings at the First Spanish Baptist Church in Detroit, Brown Chapel in Ypsilanti, and the Islamic Center of Detroit. While this was disappointing, we look forward to working with these partners once the suspension is lifted. 

Three BLI habits of particular value to our organization are building a team, engaging the world, and expecting challenges. This past year we built a team of over one hundred trained students. We further integrated social services and educational information into our screenings by partnering with the pharmacy school and other student organizations. We engage the world by collaborating with our partners and working with them to ensure that successful and culturally appropriate screenings. This year we built new partnerships with Pineview Church, the Masjid Al Falah, and the Islamic Center of Detroit. Additionally, we faced challenges such as recruiting translators from other student associations to translate Bengali and Arabic at screenings. We also face the challenge of rescheduling screenings for the 2019-2020 school year and are engaging in discussions on how to overcome this challenge. 

We are grateful to the BLI for helping us to provide expanded services at our screenings and to confidently build new partnerships without concerns for supply costs. We invite other BLI fellows and student organizations across campus to join us in our efforts to provide health-focused community service. 

By Jeremy Policht

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