From the textbook to the field: students pursuing medical degrees apply their knowledge by volunteering for the benefit of their communities

While the Covid-19 crisis has caused concern across the country, scholars supported under the program for Roma students pursuing medical degrees have invested knowledge, ideas and effort to organize their own initiatives and contribute to raising awareness, as well as with informational and diagnostic activities in their communities. Some of the young people decided to prepare and distribute materials among their communities in Sofia, Plovdiv, Sliven in order to provide information and reassurance regarding the pandemic.Such was the idea of ​​Dimitrinka Dimitrova, studying for a “Medical Assistant” degree, who prepared and distributed information materials titled “Smile even under the mask” in the streets of Sofia, with advice on responsible and reasonable maintenance of both the physical and mental health in the times of a pandemic.

Others undertook and organized volunteer initiatives in their communities to talk about the risks and prevention of a number of socially significant health problems, although the agenda of most people being recently occupied by Covid-19.

At the end of August screening gynecological examinations for uninsured women of Roma  origin were organised in Byala Slatina. During the examinations entitled “Prevention saves lives”, initiated by the scholarship holder Adelina Radeva, a student pursuing a degree in midwifery, information was provided about the importance of regular prevention for the prevention of cervical cancer in women. Adelina is led by the belief that it is important to create momentum for better awareness of how to maintain women’s health, regardless of the social and health insurance status of women.

At the same time, Vesa Ivanova, a student in Rehabilitation, held an information meeting with mothers and children in her home village of Nevestino, Karnobat municipality, in order to tell them about and diagnose spinal deformities in childhood. Vesi explains the choice of topic with the growing problem of scoliosis, namely – spinal deformities in early childhood. She shares that it is important for her to acquaint parents with the problem and to remind them of the importance of maintaining good physical shape and building the right habits. Last but not least, the scholarship holder helped with diagnostics and advice in relation to specific young patients.

The majority of students – participants in the program in the 2019/2020 academic year have shown responsibility and initiative, devoting their time to organizing activities to disseminate useful health information and support to those in most need in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic. Others have begun work on larger projects to survey the opinions and access to useful information that their communities have by preparing and completing questionnaires, and their summarized results and conclusions are yet to be shared after the fieldwork is completed.