Tulane-student-works-with-Spanish-speaking-health-support-group

Tulane student works with Spanish-speaking health support group

Forming close ties to the Spanish-speaking clinic patients she served, Tulane graduate student Erica Makar had the opportunity to apply her public health coursework and gained experience in leading support group sessions on key nutritional practices. The ultimate goal of the program she worked with was to reduce rates of obesity and diabetes.

Makar was "able to cross the cultural boundaries and understand the differences in the Latin community," said her supervisor Fernando Sosa, a community health worker at the Brinton Family Health and Healing Center in New Orleans' Mid-City, where Makar recently completed her internship.

By speaking Spanish on a daily basis, Makar said she was able to practice specific health sciences related vocabulary and conversational nuances. She was also able to plan and implement evaluation tools for the program.

Makar, a graduate student at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, was selected for the internship through the Tulane Prevention Research Center's Health Promotion Practicum Program,. The practicum program matches graduate student interns and local host organizations for 300-hour practicum experiences.

While at the Brinton Center, Makar communicated with the center's patients about the dangers of excess sugar consumption and encouraged them to share this information with family and friends to prevent further incidences of diabetes. She taught sessions on excess sugar and how it is converted to fat. She also demonstrated how to maintain culinary traditions, while modifying certain aspects of the dish to improve its nutritional quality. By illustrating her points with simple, effective images in her sessions, Makar effectively demonstrated to participants how to make healthy choices, Sosa said. For example, Makar showed the importance of hydration during the summer to avoid sugar cravings and the value in eating an apple instead of drinking apple juice.

Makar surpassed the typical intern workload, Sosa said. She came up with the name "Charles" for the support group program, which means "let's chat" (or "charlemos" in Spanish).

The experience strengthened Makar's passion for health education and shaped her future career goals.

"I would highly suggest this program to every MPH student," Makar said. "The Tulane Prevention Research Center was incredibly helpful throughout the process, acting as a great liaison and helpful organization."

By Zac Salinger, graduate student at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and Naomi Englar, Tulane PRC staff

(Photo: Erica Makar, fourth from left, and her supervisor Fernando Sosa, far right, worked together to encourage participants in a Spanish-speaking support group to make healthy choices.)

Topics:   practicum , community health , obesity , nutrition , physical activity

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