Special Olympics athletes pair with PCOM medical students to learn about physical fitness, health and wellness.
Students in PCOM AID (Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities), the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) Special Olympics Committee, and the Robert Berger Pediatrics Society recently welcomed more than 50 athletes with the Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia program for a day dedicated to physical fitness, arts and crafts and learning about health and wellness.
Dubbed “MedBuddies,” the event paired a Special Olympics athlete with a PCOM student, providing those students the opportunity to interact with a traditionally underserved population while also allowing the athletes to learn from the College’s students in a fun and interactive way. Students played basketball and soccer, listened to their hearts with stethoscopes and made their very own medical bags and x-rays.
“As future physicians, we noticed that we didn’t get a lot of interaction with the special needs community,” said Jazmin Garcia (DO ’20) co-chair of the event. “We wanted to create an event that would allow us to interact with this population, and help prepare us to better address their unique needs when we one day become health professionals.”
“It is a pleasure to partner with PCOM on an event like this that provides future health care providers with experience on how to assess and interact with people with intellectual disabilities,” said Alex Christy, manager of interscholastic partnerships for Special Olympics PA. “It is our hope that this partnership, and many like it, will indirectly help to improve the future healthcare provided to our athletes’ that will also enhance their ability to train and compete in Special Olympics.”
PCOM students are hopeful that the event continues in the coming years. “Our vision is to create an annual program which allows PCOM students from all tracks to interact and make a small impact within the lives of this diverse population within our community,” said Ms. Garcia.
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has trained more than 15,000 highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach, treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM offers the doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of pharmacy and doctor of psychology degrees and graduate programs in mental health counseling, school psychology, physician assistant studies, forensic medicine, organizational development and leadership, and biomedical sciences. Our students learn the importance of health promotion, education and service to the community and, through PCOM’s Healthcare Centers, provide care to the medically underserved populations in inner city and rural locations.
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