Health Training Workshop Prepares Future Clinical Assistants

Students and faculty members gain skills to give screenings in Delta communities

Micah Walls (left) and Conner Ball practice taking each other’s blood glucose levels. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Eighteen University of Mississippi students are ready to assist in health screenings in rural Delta communities, thanks to a recent training workshop.

The Community Health Advocate training workshop was organized for the UM Center for Population Studies as part of the Society and Health academic minor and Society and Population Health class.

Led by UM Medical Center physicians, the students and two faculty members were trained and certified in how to take and record blood pressure measurements, blood glucose levels and body mass index measurements. They also learned the protocols of what to do when a person may present abnormal levels or measurements.

“The training was part lecture and then involved a hands-on skills portion to become certified,” said John Green, director of the Center for Population Studies and director of the Society and Health minor program in the College of Liberal Arts. “Students practiced on each other to learn how to do finger pricks for glucose levels, blood pressure measurements and BMI calculations.”

As certified CHAs, the students are able to assist health care professionals in doing screenings at various health events planned for the Mississippi Delta.

“Students from Dr. Green’s Society and Population Health class will participate in a community health careers and information event slated for April in Sunflower County,” said Lynn Woo, research associate at the Center for Population Studies. “Students who are a part of Dr. Anne Cafer’s Social Movements and Dr. Georgianna Mann’s Community Nutrition will be part of the health screenings at the Quitman County Career and Health Fair in Marks on March 8.”

These new CHAs also will be networked into volunteer opportunities that can be posted via GiveGab, a social networking platform connecting nonprofit organizations and potential volunteers. Tammy Dempsey, director of the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning at UMMC, and Amber Graham, the office’s VISTA member, created a page for the trainees to be notified of any potential volunteer opportunities where their new skills may be of service.

“At the center, we have some events planned for students to use their skills and know of other volunteer events they can use their skills for events associated with the Flagship Constellations Initiatives and other community engagement programs and projects,” Green said.

This is the second year that some of Green’s students participated in CHA training organized by the center as part of the Society and Health minor.

Dr. Alan Penman, professor of preventative medicine in the School of Medicine at the UM Medical Center, conducted the lecture portion of the training and was joined by Robin Wilkerson, professor of nursing and assistant dean for the School of Nursing on the Oxford campus, and some nursing faculty and nursing students to assist with the skills portion.

For more information about the SOHE minor, visit