663 Women are Screened in the AUC-Ministry of VSA Breast Abnormalities Project

April 10, 2024  -GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – For the past two weekends, the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine, in collaboration with the Positive Foundation and the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor (Ministry VSA), hosted two successful free breast and health screening events in Philipsburg.

About two dozen AUC students under supervision of clinical medicine fellows, Drs. Luna Emogene and Pathik Patel, provided 63 women with general health assessments that included background health history, checking vital signs, calculating body-mass index (BMI), measuring waist circumference, visual acuity, and blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

Each screening also included a free clinical breast examination by Dr. Naira Chobanyan, clinical oncologist, and professor of clinical medicine at AUC.

The educational part included a presentation of the risk factors for breast cancer, demonstration of the clinical breast exam on plastic models, as well as assessment of individual risk for breast cancer in participating women over 35.

Results of this study are vital for understanding the prevalence of breast abnormalities within the population of Sint Maarten. All results will be reported to the Ministry of VSA to help establish policies for the screening of breast abnormalities and cancer.

The major educational outcome of this project is the incorporation of the Learners-as-Educators model, which is a unique teaching tool for medical students to cascade medical knowledge from Faculty to Fellows to Medical Students to Community.

It was developed by Dr. Chobanyan, a principal-investigator of the project from the AUC team.  For medical students and clinical medicine fellows, each health and breast screening event are an opportunity to work side-by-side with patients while practicing clinical and communication skills.

Students had the opportunity to explain the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of breast cancer, while answering questions about personal breast health and self-care.

In addition to the benefits this research brings to the community of Sint Maarten, clinical fellows and medical students are afforded an opportunity to gain real-world clinical experience.

By working with individual people, conducting interviews, and performing an overall health assessment, medical students are able to enhance their preparedness for clinical rotations.

Up-to date the total number of local women served within the breast screening project is 663, with the target goal of 1000. The project will continue in the next academic semester with the aim to reach its estimated total to obtain a representative sample of the target population.

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