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Geisel Medical Students Earn Public Health Award

Three rising third-year medical students from the Geisel School of Medicine have received a distinguished national award for their efforts over the past two years to improve both awareness of and access to health care for an underserved population in their community.

During Geisel’s Transitions Ceremony, held recently at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Caledonia Moore ‘18, Claire Hogue ‘18, and Michael Connerney ‘18 were presented with the 2016 Excellence in Public Health Award by the U.S. Public Health Service Physician Professional Advisory Committee for their work with Spanish-speaking dairy farm workers in the Upper Valley.

Created by the U.S. Public Health Service to inspire medical students to commit themselves to public health and to become leaders in the field, the award recognizes medical students who show their dedication to public health by making exceptional contributions to their communities.

The Geisel trio co-directs the Migrant Health Project at the medical school, a student-led group that (in partnership with Little Rivers Healthcare in Wells River, VT) provides bi-annual medical screening and referral clinics at six dairy farms, and interpreter services for the farm workers.

Last year, they launched MOLAARS (Migrant Oral Lifestyle Advocacy and Advancement Resource Service), in collaboration with the Dartmouth CO-OP Primary Care Research Network—to provide bi-annual dental cleaning and screening appointments for the farm workers (many who had never received dental care before) at Barton Street Dental in Bradford, VT, as well as dental education meetings at the farms.

“Receiving this award from the U.S. Public Health Service makes me really proud of what this project has accomplished, and the fact that it's also inspiring other medical students to keep doing this kind of work gives me hope for even more progress in the future,” says Moore. “It’s something that’s very tangible that you can do as a medical student that makes a huge difference in people’s care. I think one of the best things we’ve done, with help from the research CO-OP, is establish a more evidence-based approach to make sure we’re addressing the needs of this population going forward.”

"It's wonderful to be recognized by the U.S. Public Health Service,” says Hogue. “This award is such an honor and we are so grateful for it. We were happy to do this work because we could see what a big difference it was making for this population."

“It was a great honor to receive this award,” says Connerney. “I believe it represents the efforts of all of the medical students, healthcare providers, and faculty that gave their time and energy to the project over the last two years. Seeing the results of the various activities we’ve done, such as how the farm workers’ knowledge and satisfaction around their dental health has improved, is very gratifying. We’re excited for the rising second years who will assume leadership next year and what they’ll be able to accomplish for this population in the years to come.”

“I’m very proud of the work that our students do to provide basic healthcare service to the community, and that the efforts of Claire, Caledonia, and Michael have been recognized by the U.S. Public Health Service Physician Professional Advisory Committee,” says Duane Compton, PhD, Interim Dean of Geisel School of Medicine. “Their efforts are emblematic of the empathetic approach taken by all of our students."