Today we loaded the bus and left for Jackson, Mississippi. But before we get to our first stop, we wanted to share what we’ve been doing to prepare for the trip.
We started on Monday, May 7th learning about principles of effective teamwork. We did a couple of team building exercises, the most memorable being around team communication. Students were broken into teams of three and each team member was assigned a specific role: Looker, Runner, or Builder. The Looker was responsible for looking at a simple structure built of tinker toys and relaying instructions to the Runner on how to begin recreating it in another room. The Runner, who was not allowed to see the structure personally, then relayed instructions between the Looker and the Builder who were separate rooms. This exercise demonstrated how hard it can be to communicate simple instructions and how easily a message can be misinterpreted! One student, Tessa Graham, stated that this was one of the best team building exercises she had ever participated in and that it really drove home the point of how hard it can be to communicate between stakeholders who have different viewpoints or come from different backgrounds.
Next, we had the opportunity to visit the UAB Archives and talk with Tim Pennycuff, Associate Professor and University Archivist. Mr. Pennycuff brought out many historical documents that related to the themes and topics that we will be discussing in this course and sites that we will be visiting. He highlighted historical events and discussed how these events have shaped the health disparities we see today. “It was exciting to see our very own Dr. Michael Saag in newspaper clippings from the 1980’s at the forefront of the battle of HIV/AIDS” said student and UAB employee, Claire Auriemma. Especially knowing that he is still working just as hard today through the UAB Center for AIDS Research and the 1917 Clinic to reach the goal of zero new HIV infections in Alabama.
And finally, students collaborated on drafting working definitions of key themes we will see when on the road: population health, health inequities, and social determinants of health. Each stop along the way was researched by student groups and introductory information was presented to the rest of the class before we set off on our journey.
All of this to say, we are excited, prepared and ready for what we will see and learn over the next two weeks!
Stay tuned for more blog posts from the UAB SOPH Explorers!