Graduate Health Education student talks about her experience co-directing the PT HEART clinic

GeorgianaGeorgiana Logan is the picture of an engaged and dedicated graduate student. On top of her full-time course load, Georgiana is the Co-Director of the PT HEART student-run free clinic, over Health Education services. She’s also the Vice President of UM-Flint’s Delta Phi Chapter of the Eta Sigma Gamma National Honorary. In her work with PT HEART, Georgiana has already begun to make her mark. Her volunteers, who come from many different disciplines across the university, now have assigned roles in the clinic, “to keep the clinic running smoothly and so that people don’t get overwhelmed,” Logan said. For example, PT HEART now has receptionists, whose role is to manage traffic in the clinic, verify doctor’s appointments, and issue bus passes. Asked specifically about health education volunteers and their role at PT HEART, she explained “they do everything. They act as educators, evaluators, receptionists and ‘foot workers’.” ‘Foot workers’ is Georgiana’s name for the volunteers on the ground—they spend time in the dining area of the North End Soup Kitchen, conversing with guests about the clinic’s services and guests’ health needs. Their goal is to get people to come to the PT HEART clinic upstairs. “The idea is to go to people and start conversations, not sit around waiting for people to come to you; that gives the wrong impression—like you’re ‘better’ than them,” said Logan, “you have to meet people where they are.” Volunteering for PT HEART is a fantastic opportunity for students to step outside their comfort zone, “At PT HEART, you get comfortable talking to a population you might not otherwise cross paths with” Logan explained. Prospective volunteers should contact Georgiana at PTHeart.HealthEdu@gmail.com for more information on how to get involved.

Health education volunteers at PT HEART practice some of the core tenets of the field. One of their main goals for clients is to help them make positive lifestyle or behavior changes by collaboratively devising a plan that can effectively change unhealthy habits. Part of meeting people where they are is asking them about their health needs. At PT HEART, health educators ask individuals to identify their three biggest health concerns. Some peoples’ needs are relatively simple. For example, one man said he needed bandages, which prompted Georgiana to purchase supplies and put together miniature first-aid kits for the homeless at the Soup Kitchen.  For more complex health challenges, volunteers ask people about their current habits, and then help them implement small steps for positive change. Another major component of a health educator’s work is fighting the obstacles that prevent people from getting what they need. That’s why PT HEART issues bus passes to clients who lack the transportation necessary to get to doctor appointments.

Georgiana’s primary goal for PT HEART this year is to make the organization more visible in the community. “I want everybody to know about us and what we do: physicians, churches…I want everyone to know who we are so they can refer people to us,” she said. She believes PT HEART can better serve its population by knowing about the resources available in the community and by being known by other resources. Logan’s energy and initiative are inspiring, but she also understands she can’t realize her dreams for PT HEART alone:“If I had to tell my fellow Health Education students anything, I would tell them to remember the phrase, ‘change begins with me.’ Come out, volunteer, and support PT HEART!”

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