The Health In Motion Van is used extensively to provide a clinical experience for students studying community health and care of vulnerable populations. The van coordinates with community health outreach programs run by the City of Boston and other venues where students experience first-hand the challenges of delivering health care to those outside the mainstream, be they homeless families, injection-drug users or incarcerated individuals. The van is equipped to provide health promotion, health education and basic screening and immunization services. The primary objectives of the van are to expand outreach services to the community, foster interdisciplinary teaching and learning, and provide student experiences for professional practice in the community. Students who participate on the van consistently report finding it a very rich learning experience
In June 2006, the Health in Motion van reached out to a hidden and underserved population: migrant workers living on the backstretch of Suffolk Downs Race Track in East Boston. With volunteer support from the Gamma Epsilon Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Society, the van spent two days providing public health education, screenings, and immunizations. Over two days, nearly two dozen transient workers were tested for tuberculosis and vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, and diphtheria. Four were diagnosed with tuberculosis and referred for further treatment. Planning for the event was done with The Eighth Pole, a nonprofit group that provides daily social and substance abuse services to the workers. In addition to the Gamma Epsilon volunteers, Eighth Pole workers and a doctor and nurse from Boston Health Care for the Homeless were available for consultation during clinic hours.
School of Nursing faculty members Ann Hill and Catherine O’Connor use the Van to provide clinical experiences for students learning about community-based health and working with vulnerable populations. The students meet with over 200 clients each term for health promotion and teaching in conjunction with programs such as the City of Boston’s needle exchange program and a night-time outreach program coordinated with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.