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Posted: June 04, 2013

TCOM students contribute more than 7,000 hours of community service


Holidays and weekends, Blair Cushing (TCOM '15) works the Safe Haven of Tarrant County hotline so the staff can get a break from the desperate calls of domestic-abuse victims.

Cushing is part of the reason the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine ranks in the top third of a national community-service award program. TOUCH (Translating Osteopathic Understanding into Community Health, sponsored by the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents) recognizes students who serve at least 50 hours in addition to those required by their medical school. TCOM requires 40 hours during the first two years of medical school.

For the 12 months that ended in March, 56 TCOM students were named Silver Award winners, meaning they worked more than 50 hours. And 21 students worked more than 100 hours, earning the Gold Award.

Then there's Cushing, TCOM's Platinum winner. "I actually had 302 hours but turned some of them in late, so I could only count 277," says the Boston native.

Fast Fact:

During the past year, TCOM students in the TOUCH program did 7,066 hours of community service -- equivalent to 883 eight-hour days.

She's a self-described nontraditional student. "My last full-time job was running a domestic violence program at Boston Medical Center," says the 29-year-old who also has worked as a social work case manager. At Boston Medical she helped battered women and children find a way out of their abusive home lives. "It was intense but gratifying."

As a first-year student she dismissed caveats against too many extracurricular activities. "They tell you not to take on anything extra because med school will soak up all your time; but I've always had multiple jobs and I want to do something meaningful and make an impact."

Her community service also includes providing diabetes education and flu vaccinations to uninsured Hispanics and others in local free clinics. She obtained grants for some of these projects.

She is the student representative to the Texas Medical Association Board of Trustees, and finds time to work as a research assistant for the Texas Prevention Institute, where she's preparing for a June 6 Health Literacy Symposium in Arlington.

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