SDN Article: Promoting Prevention: APSEA Student Leadership Opportunities

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Could you see yourself founding a club on campus? What about leading a group of your peers and gaining clinical experience? APSEA has what you are searching for! APSEA, the American Preventive Screening and Education Association, was founded by Dr. Aayush Visaria, MD, MPH, and David Lo to promote community preventative health education. By connecting talented and passionate undergraduates to our team of US MD/DO students, foreign medical graduates, and MPH/PhD graduate students, we aim to give you the experience you need to succeed and the tools to impact the health of your local community.

The History of APSEA​

In the summer of 2014, founders Dr. Aayush Visaria MD, MPH, and David Lo collaborated with local community centers in New Jersey to promote preventive health education amongst community members (specifically for diabetes and hypertension). Drawing inspiration from overseas medical trips, the alarming increases in preventable chronic disease, and the lack of immersive healthcare experiences for students, our founders created the American Preventive Screening & Education Association (APSEA) at Rutgers. APSEA’s mission is to raise awareness about hypertension and diabetes and reduce the prevalence of uncontrolled, untreated, and undiagnosed hypertension and diabetes.

APSEA created its own comprehensive training curriculum to empower students to provide preventive counseling at various health screening events. The non-profit would also provide Rutgers medical students with opportunities for clinical experience and hands-on certification. We wanted an organization that tackled the cost of clinical experience and the certifications necessary to advance in one’s career and did not require inside connections or a waitlist.

Looking back to our start, APSEA has accomplished some fantastic things. We have trained over 1200 volunteers, held over 700 free events in the northeast, become a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and have been able to publish numerous in peer-reviewed journals. Members have gained real health training experience and applied their knowledge of preventative health to help their community. As time has progressed, we wish to continue expanding our programs to other locations across the country to provide the best quality training and education to students and the members of their university communities.

APSEA’s Mission​

Our mission consists of four main components.

1. Health Education​

Teaching community members strategies to aid long-term self-management of hypertension and hyperglycemia is the first component of our mission. Students can contribute to resources for community members and other healthcare students by writing for our blog, recruiting new members, beginning new chapters, or contributing to our social media. This provides our members with options, but also opens membership to different interests and concentrations. Bharath Nagaraj, President of NJMS APSEA, mentioned, “Students can focus on the best path and work for themselves based on their interests, as well as gain hands-on experience in health care that will be invaluable in whatever profession they choose to pursue.

2. Health Awareness​

Additionally, we focus on spreading awareness about chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension and share lifestyle changes and preventative care strategies that are up-to-date and comprehensive. Every day, new research and discoveries are uncovering more ways to prevent negative health outcomes like hypertension, diabetes, and chronic heart conditions. Diabetes management strategies focused on prevention are less invasive and costly, and provide people with a higher quality of life. Here at APSEA, we believe that preventative health is the most effective when members of the community and those involved in a patient’s health (loved ones, caretakers, etc.) are provided with the necessary information and resources to manage and improve conditions themselves. Our hope in spreading this information is that, ultimately, members of the community will use preventative health and primary care services to improve their lives over time.

3. Health Research​

APSEA also seeks to use and contribute to the newest research on blood glucose and blood pressure. Students can join a team of highly qualified students and doctors across the globe to perform a variety of data-driven research projects on hypertension, hyperglycemia, and other topics important to the study of preventative health. Students who have joined the research team have presented at both national and international conferences, including the 2019 American College of Cardiology scientific sessions, the 2019 European Hypertension’s meeting on Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease Protection, and more!

4. Health Coaching​

Finally, the last component of our mission is to provide high-quality health coaching in the form of evidenced-based advice as well as blood pressure and glucose screenings. APSEA seeks to achieve this through community outreach such as our CDC-provisionally approved 6-month Diabetes Prevention Program. Divya P., a New Jersey resident said, “Going to an APSEA Health Screening allowed me to better understand my health. I found a safe space and a helping hand with you all when it felt like everything else was falling apart in terms of managing my weight and health. I will always appreciate the kindness I was shown.” By using public-accessible equipment and educating the community, APSEA can spread preventative health care to help community members live overall healthier lives.

Creating an APSEA Chapter​

APSEA currently has multiple chapters in New Jersey. However, the organization is seeking to expand across the country, and to do that we need passionate health students like you!

Beginning a chapter of APSEA at your own school is simpler than one may think. In fact, we have created an APSEA Startup Toolkit to help you with everything you need.

APSEA Chapter Formation

  1. Find a diverse group of students and a faculty advisor to begin composing the e-board.
    We accept all levels of education from high school students to graduate students, and there is no GPA requirement. In addition, there is no minimum number of students needed to form a chapter except to comply with the requirements of your school.

  2. Begin marketing and collaborating with your university through on campus events, flyers, partnerships with other clubs, and possibly getting featured in a health profession newsletter or email blast.

  3. Organize a first e-board meeting to conduct training with Dr. Visaria herself.
    Typically, founders begin at a time commitment of 5-10 hours per week between making flyers, organizing events, and getting the chapter off the ground. Afterwards, the commitment should decrease with the aid of graphic designs, templates, and other materials provided by APSEA.

  4. Finally, contact the community to begin hosting consistent weekly events at similar locations. For more information check out our New Chapter Checklist at

Becoming a founding member of an APSEA chapter allows students to gain leadership skills, become familiar with their fellow classmates and community, and start their own path to success with the variety of programs and positions available at APSEA. In addition to training for preventative health screenings, students can take courses to earn certifications, research projects, and alumni mentoring. Founding the original e-board of a chapter is a fantastic way to gain experience in leadership and collaboration. It provides a meaningful volunteer experience for students.

Taylore Owens, a volunteer and intern, stated, “I’m proud to give my time to an organization working to help those who need it the most. My experiences here have opened my eyes to the realities of others and given me hope for a world that helps a neighbor out when they need it.” APSEA connects students to the vast network of professionals who contribute to the growing study and application of preventative health. At its core, we seek to serve people across the globe to live happier and healthier lives.

The post Promoting Prevention: APSEA Student Leadership Opportunities appeared first on Student Doctor Network.

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