Wellness Workshops for a Healthier Community
When it comes to patient care, Amy Eskuchen believes all people should be equipped with the proper knowledge to take control of their own health. Eskuchen, who will begin her third year in the Institute for Physical Therapy Education, put this belief into practice with the “Be Your Own Champion” workshop series last semester.
The concept for the workshops came out of the Advocacy Action Committee, a recently established group in the Physical Therapy Student Association geared toward developing community outreach opportunities. As a committee member, Eskuchen saw an opportunity to connect with members of the community to bolster individual health and teach preventative care.
“The easiest way to make the biggest change is to provide the education to the patients themselves on how to manage the healthcare system and be their own advocate,” Eskuchen said.
Eskuchen partnered with the Chester Senior Center to hold six workshops designed to educate community residents on how to manage their health needs and improve daily wellness. The series content was developed by an interdisciplinary group of students from physical therapy, nursing, master of social work and graduate clinical psychology. This interprofessional health approach delivered a range of topics from emotional health and stress management, to exercise tips and information about available public resources.
“Sometimes it can be easy to be one-minded and only think in the physical therapy vein, but when you realize how many resources other disciplines offer you get a whole patient care perspective, it’s beneficial for everyone,” said Eskuchen.
In addition to educating residents on health management through preventative care, the outreach also gave students the opportunity to interact with other health disciplines and experience different approaches to patient care and interventions.
“This was an extremely beneficial collaboration as it allowed us to treat the whole patient instead of only focusing on one component of their health,” said Aubrey Flanigan, a third-year graduate clinical psychology student. “Mental and physical health are intertwined, so this team approach allowed both the mental and physical health of patients to be addressed.”
For Sabrina Barbachan and Kendra Cabrera, earning dual degrees in MSW and M.Ed. in Human Sexuality, they admired the project concept and shared similar goals in their work at the Widener Community Connections (WCC).
“We have been working hard during our year of internship at WCC to build a rapport with as many clinics on campus and organizations in our community,” they said. “When this opportunity was offered to us, it seemed to match our clinic objective as well.”
Looking back, Eskuchen credits the success of the workshops to the dedicated student partners, faculty mentors and Chester senior center administrators who supported the project.
“We had so many people helping us with this project from different disciplines and it was amazing how everyone was willing to lend a helping hand to support our efforts,” said. Eskuchen.
As for future workshops, Eskuchen plans to establish the series as an annual event to be managed and operated by future classes, giving upcoming students the opportunity to benefit from the collaboration and outreach.