Want to get outside, learn something new, and maybe make a friend?
University of Chicago and Northwestern University medical students like Alia Abiad and Vikram Saudagar lead Chicagoans on health education walks on the North and South sides.
What topics are covered on walks?
Vikram: “It usually comes down to what we're studying in school at the moment. Sometimes topics are relevant to the day: sunscreen on a bright day, the benefits of walking and cardiovascular health. We’ve talked about how you scan for abnormal moles on your body.”
Alia: “We've decided to start with sort of broader topics like blood pressure. Last year, [past students] talked about sleep hygiene and mental health.”
What has surprised you?
Vikram: “Some of [the walkers] have started coordinating their own walks on Fridays. A lot of people have made friends. They take each other's numbers and emails down. Medicine is kind of the introductory point. I always come away with a sense of joy from just talking with them. They are excited about their pasts and our futures.”
How are the walks aligning with your medical interests?
Alia: “A huge part of being a physician is building trusting and long-standing relationships with community members. A big motivation for all of us is also making the UChicago medical community feel accessible and warm to community members — like friendly faces rather than some big separate health care institution.”
Northwestern University medical student Vikram Saudagar, center, with walkers at Lake Shore Park. (Courtesy of Chicago Parks Foundation)
Walk with the medical students Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. at Promontory Point or every other Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. at Lake Shore Park.