Pitt Students Learn About Aging During Health Assessment Fairs

By: Courtney Caprara

assessment1Over the course of three days, nearly 200 students from the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and Rehabilitation Sciences visited nine UPMC Senior Communities for “Pittsburgh High Fives Successful Aging,” a free health assessment fair for senior community residents.

As part of a week-long course in geriatric medicine, taught by Rollin Wright, M.D., M.P.H., health sciences students used newly acquired skills to conduct health assessments and promote healthy aging. Students gained real-world experience, working with residents to assess their sleep, mood, pain, fall risk, physical capabilities and mental health. Residents were encouraged to take the results of the assessment to their primary care physicians to coordinate care in the years to come.

“We teach students the importance of patient-centered care that preserves older patients’ function and independence, and we emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary teamwork when treating patients with complex medical challenges,” said Dr. Wright, assistant professor in the division of geriatric medicine at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh.

While not every student will become a geriatrician, Dr. Wright notes, there is a significant likelihood that they will work with senior patients at some point in their career. Students talked and laughed with their residents throughout the health assessment, bridging a generation gap and demonstrating the commitment that Pitt students have to helping local seniors age successfully.