Getting into medical school is not an easy process. It’s competitive and applicants must have an exceptional academic record to be considered. To help future health professionals gain experience outside of the classrooms and guide them through this journey, Hmong Health Alliance (HHA) was established in 2011 to stitch these gaps together. Billy Vang, HHA’s current president testifies that if a new member were to join their organization they would instantly feel the organizations caring dynamic. He mentions the group’s dedication to help one another. Their genuine care for others is what drives them to continue in their career path and to help aspiring medical students succeed.
(HHA’s Annual Health and Wellness Fair, University Union Ballroom; April, 2016)
(Billy Vang, HHA current president, Sac State; January, 2017)
One of their biggest events to look forward to is their 5th Annual Health and Wellness Fair on May 6th. This event is entirely run by student leaders who carefully plan a year in advance and work in subcommittees to bring the health fair to life. The purpose of the fair is to provide a one-stop-shop to the on and off campus community where they can find more information about health related care and services. Vendors from local clinics are invited to not only promote their business but also their services. According to their current fundraising GoFundMe page, HHA’s previous fair provided over $100,000 in screenings and consultations from health professionals to the 200 – 250 attendees. HHA provides attendees give-away bags filled with healthcare products like lotions, sunscreens, bandages, and more! All items were generously donated by the Direct Relieve organization. Much credit goes to the outreach efforts implemented so attendees have access to self-care items.
This year, they plan to have a similar program; however, Vang notes his team would like to “try to make it bigger every year”. He envisions the event beyond booths and vendors, to have entertainment, workout and exercising sessions, and a more hands-on approach like their Hands on Health Education Workshop. This workshop was four and a half hours long workshop where participants were able to gain knowledge and experience in three medical techniques: blood pressure screening, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and phlebotomy (blood draw). HHA partnered with Red Cross student organization to provide CPR trainings and with a local student-run clinic, Hmong Lifting Underserved Barriers (H.L.U.B.) clinic, to provide education on blood pressure and phlebotomy. Vang stated the phlebotomy session was a “complicated one because [they] needed licensed professionals from the H.L.U.B. Clinic to come help”. In this session participants were able to use real medical needles!
(HHA member teaching participants how to measure blood pressure at their Hands on Health Education Workshop; October, 2016)
Apart from workshops and events, HHA offers volunteer and leadership opportunities that not only impact the student population on campus but also the local community. Last December, they tabled at the Sacramento Hmong New Year at Cal Expo, a cultural festival, to provide free blood pressure and glucose screening for three days. It is a tradition that HHA provides their services to the Hmong New Year as they look forward to volunteer and table again this winter.
For more information and updates about HHA and their upcoming events:
To support this semester’s health fair, please visit HHA’s GoFundMe page. All proceeds will pay for HHA fair expenses.
Written by: Houa Vang, Leadership Initiative Program Assistant