Catalyst Magazine

A Healthy Way to Learn

Jessica McKay
Photo by Matthew D’Agostino
or Jessica McKay, a student at the University of Maryland School of Nursing set to graduate in December 2019, education doesn’t end at the classroom. Her learning experiences extend to the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Community Campus where she gets to know the children and families on a more personal level.

“When health care professionals see people in the hospital, they’re just seeing one facet of their lives,” she says. “But when we come out into the community, we see all the things that are really impacting them, so we’re getting that holistic view.”

This holistic mindset creates a mutually beneficial relationship between students at UMB and neighbors in the surrounding community. By working with the community, in the community, UMB gives Baltimore neighbors access to a number of informational health care resources. At the same time, UMB students become more effective and culturally competent professionals who better understand the circumstances of the patients and clients they’ll serve.

“As students, it’s really great to see our patients in their home environment where they feel comfortable because when they come to us in a clinical setting it’s like they have a ‘game face’ on,” adds McKay. “In the community, we’re getting their real personalities and we can learn how to work with them on a more personal level.”

McKay is able to achieve a personal relationship with members of the community through many avenues. She teaches students at James McHenry Elementary/Middle School about healthy living habits, she mentors children in the PAL (Police Athletic/Activities League) Program. 

In addition to these youth health programs, the UMB Community Engagement Center (CEC) also has a monthly health education program for adults called the UMB Health Alliance.

The UMB Health Alliance was launched by UMB students in November 2018. It’s an interprofessional project that involves more than 50 students and faculty mentors from the University of Maryland schools of dentistry, law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, and its interdisciplinary Graduate School.

The students distribute health care resources including fitness journals and first-aid kits to West Baltimore neighbors while also providing them with valuable information about different health-related topics such as heart health and fall prevention. Neighbors also have the opportunity to meet individually with a patient navigator to discuss health issues specific to their case. 

The UMB Health Alliance and other health education programs at the CEC will only continue to develop and mature when the center expands into a much larger building in the late summer of 2020. Not only will the space provide the West Baltimore community with more access to health-related resources, but it also will provide UMB students with more opportunities to learn and grow in their respective disciplines. C

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Jena Frick

Jena Frick is a senior media relations specialist in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

CATALYST magazine

Executive Board

Lynne Henry, Laura Kozak, Larry Kushner, Jennifer Litchman, Thomas Sullivan, Kate Ostrowski


Lynne Henry

Managing Editor

Chris Zang

Assistant Editor

Kate Ostrowski

Photography Director

Matthew D’Agostino


Michelle Baffuto

Web Director

Amir Chamsaz

Marketing Manager

Kristi McGuire