Journey to a Great Service Term

Posted on: January 6, 2023Central California

I can still recall the first day of my service term in vivid detail. I spent half an hour searching for the entrance to my Community Health Center, growing a little bit more frustrated with every passing minute. I didn’t want to make a bad impression: what would my new coworkers think if I couldn’t even find my way to work? I eventually got a text from my new partner Daniel, a fellow vaccine ambassador, asking me where I was. Sheepishly, I texted back: “I don’t know. Can you walk outside?” With many apologies and some embarrassment, I began my service term.

Speaking with patients didn’t come easy to us at first; especially not when the primary topic of discussion revolved around vaccinations. During our first few weeks at WellSpace Health, Daniel and I sat in the lobby with a stack of flyers, playing games of rock-paper-scissors to determine who would go up to each new patient that walked in. However, with every passing day, I found myself growing a little bit more comfortable. By our second month of service, we had adapted our communication strategy. Instead of straight up talking about vaccines with our patients, we strove to learn a little bit more about them. What artist were they blasting on their speaker? What country did they come from? The more we learned about those we served, the easier it was for us to have comfortable conversations about vaccines.

Just as we got the hang of speaking with our patients, we were assigned a new task. We were to give a presentation on vaccinations to a team of Health Educators. We initially assumed that this was going to be easy: how much can there possibly be to say about vaccines? But the more we dug, the more we found out how nuanced this presentation would need to be. After almost a month of putting together slides and several days of practice, we were ready. Our final presentation came out to 90 minutes and spanned topics ranging from vaccine hesitancy and its historic causes to discussion of an economic model that highlighted trends in rates of COVID-19 vaccination. Upon the completion of our presentation, the Chief Medical Officer of WellSpace Health gave us a couple more projects to undertake: one that revolved around determining the root of vaccine hesitancy within communities in Sacramento and another to help devise a vaccination education program for vaccine hesitant parents.

Amidst these projects, I had been in the middle of my medical school application cycle. I found my experiences with NHC to be an amazing reservoir to draw upon for interviews! From talking about the importance of the camaraderie I had formed with Daniel to the evolution of our communication style with patients to our experience helping to devise a health education program, medical school admissions committees have seemed to be really impressed with the breadth of the program. I am eternally grateful for the people I have met at WellSpace Health and through CVHN, and I know that my time with NHC has prepared me well to serve my community as a physician.

About the Author:

Yasine Kedarri

Yasine is currently serving as a Vaccine Ambassador with WellSpace Health in Sacramento. Born in San Francisco, he spent most of his life living in the Middle East and North Africa. He returned to California to begin taking classes at American River College, where he discovered a passion for both healthcare and public service. Upon transferring to UC Merced in 2019, he elected to major in Human Biology, with the intention of pursuing a career as a physician.

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