SVS Med Student Group Members Assist at AAA Screening

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With the help of medical students affiliated with an SVS student group, 15 people were identified with potential vascular issues – including six with possible life-threatening abdominal aortic aneurysms – at a screening event in November.

Nearly 30 first- and second-year medical students at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and 14 physician assistant students at the university helped screen more than 130 patients at the Vascular Surgery Department’s free abdominal aortic aneurysm screening event.

The med students are part of the medical school’s V-SIG chapter, or Vascular Surgery Interest Group. Such dedicated interest groups, as well as a dedicated liaison or forum can provide students with early exposure to vascular surgery, help students get involved in vascular-related research and service activities earlier in their medical career and obtain valuable career mentorship.

SVS has 19 such groups in the United States and Canada and offers help to students who would like to start a chapter. “With an aging population at risk for vascular diseases, there is a growing vascular surgical manpower need in this country. It is our hope that activities like this will introduce young, passionate and enthusiastic medical students to consider a career as a vascular surgeon while performing a public service,” said SVS President Dr. Bruce A. Perler. “Medical students such as these in Arkansas are getting valuable learning experience and exposure to the specialty.”

During the AAA event, the patients received a blood pressure check, answered a questionnaire on symptoms of carotid stenosis and peripheral arterial disease and also received an abdominal ultrasound.

“Any patient with a positive screening for carotid stenosis or PAD then underwent an Ankle-Brachial Index test and an ultrasound of their carotid arteries,” said Collins Scott, V-SIG member.

After the screening tests were completed, patients could visit the “Ask the Doctor” area to discuss test results with a vascular surgery resident. Screeners saw more than 130 patients during the four-hour event. “In 15 patients we identified nine with carotid stenosis, three with peripheral arterial disease and six with AAAs,” Scott said. All were scheduled for a later appointment and further follow-up with the Vascular Surgery Department.

The 40 students who helped out had had a previous training session on performing ABI test and were able to screen patients for PAD and carotid stenosis, as well as check blood pressures.

Students were able to learn from the clinicians working the event, including the two leaders – and SVS members – Drs. Mohammed Moursi and Matthew Smeds, Scott said.

“Every student contributed to this significant public health intervention that helped not only the Vascular Surgery Department but also citizens of the state of Arkansas,” he said.

For more information on VSIG programs, including a toolkit for creating a group, visit www.vsweb.org/VSIG.

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