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An ISCOPES Institution

What do the New York Subway system, the Peace Corps, and GW’s Interdisciplinary Student Community-Oriented Prevention Enhancement Service (ISCOPES) have in common?

They are all “things that last,” said Gene "Rusty" Kallenberg, M.D., professor and chief of the Division of Family Medicine and vice chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, who delivered the keynote address at ISCOPES’ end of year celebration, April 19.

ISCOPES — a year-long program open to students from GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), the Milken Institute School of Public Health (formerly the GW School of Public Health and Health Services), School of Nursing (SON), and George Mason University’s School of Nursing — partners interdisciplinary teams of students with local community-based organizations to promote health in unique ways. Each team is supported by one to three community preceptors and one to two faculty advisors.

As one of the founders of ISCOPES 15 years ago, Kallenberg praised the organization’s lasting power, deeming it an “institution” that has become a defining feature of the GW Medical Center.

“In the 15 years that ISCOPES has been present, probably 2,500 students have been involved and have touched thousands of lives,” said Kallenberg to the group of over 100 students, faculty, and staff who gathered in the GW Auditorium for the celebration.

Through a slide show, speeches, and an award ceremony, ISCOPES participants and supporters reflected on the year’s achievements and challenges.

“Even in the face of what sometimes seemed to be impossible circumstances, students, advisors, preceptors, and staff prevailed, coming to terms with the extraordinary level of persistence that is required to effectively serve,” said ISCOPES Director Angie Hinzey, M.P.H.

This year, ISCOPES partnered with 15 community sites across the city, said Hinzey. The teams’ projects ranged from initiating and coaching a school basketball team at the Marie Reed Community Learning Center, to developing a resource guide for expectant fathers in collaboration with the D.C. Department of Health, to hosting a health fair fro residents of St. Mary’s Court, a senior living community.

For the first time, one team partnered with Academies of Anacostia, a school system in a low-income D.C. community. Through workshops and mentorship activities held at the GW Medical Center, the team helped teach high school seniors about the health professions.

Throughout the end-of-year celebration, Kallenberg and Hinzey encouraged the students to recognize not only the impact they made on the community, but also the changes within themselves. ISCOPES’ emphasis on teamwork, cultural competency, and community-oriented care equipped participants with increasingly critical tools for a career in the health professions, the speakers said.

“You've become very intimately aware of your co-professionals’ existence, their roles, the things that they bring to the helping professions table, and you've also become aware of the communities in which you exist,” said Kallenberg.

Hinzey, who became the ISCOPES director in Fall 2010, challenged the students to promote the values of ISCOPES throughout their careers. Even seemingly minimal acts, she said, can create “ripple effects” which accumulate into greater change.

“I dare you to do something with yourself now that you have been through ISCOPES,” she said. “I dare you to take the lessons you learned from ISCOPES and turn them into the fabric of who you are. You can change the world.”

During the awards portion of the celebration, Sandy Hoar, P.A.-C, part-time faculty in the Health Sciences programs in SMHS; and Isabel van Isschot, a preceptor at the community site La Clinica Del Pueblo, were recognized for having been a part of ISCOPES for 15 years, or since its inception.

Several of the original grant writers were also in attendance, including Nancy Freeborne, P.A.-C., M.P.H., assistant professor at George Mason University; Bernard Horak, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Health Systems Administration in Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies; Marie-Michèle Léger, P.A.-C., M.P.H., director of Clinical and International Affairs at the American Academy of Physician Assistants; and Mary Beth Bigley, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., A.N.P., acting director of the Office of Science and Communications, Office of the Surgeon General.

Celebrating their 10th “anniversary” with ISCOPES was Susan LeLacheur, Dr. P.H., P.A.-C, assistant professor of Health Care Sciences in SMHS; Paul Tschudi, Ed.S., L.P.C., visiting assistant professor of Health Care Sciences in SMHS; and Susan Blake, Ph.D., associate research professor in the MISPH’s Department of Prevention and Community Health.

Each team’s “Most Valuable (Team) Player” was also announced.

Following the ceremony, ISCOPES participants hosted a poster fair showcasing their projects to their fellow students, as well as faculty, community preceptors, and friends. The session allowed all involved with ISCOPES to learn about the various service projects and community sites, and to celebrate their cumulative impact on the community.

“Congratulations to ISCOPES, you have reached adolescence — an important milestone,” concluded Kallenberg. “You've passed a lot of threatening situations of infancy and childhood…and are now established as an adolescent program. I think you are going to be here to stay, and I wish you a long and healthy life."