SHOW pivots to continue serving during pandemic

Dean's Blog |
Judith Karshmer

ASU's Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation is located in downtown Phoenix, a large city and one that has a significant population of people experiencing homelessness. Seven years ago a collaboration of students from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona took it on themselves to help address this issue. Their efforts led to the creation of Student Health Outreach for Wellness, or SHOW. 

Today, more than 200 students, across multiple majors and the three state universities, volunteer with SHOW each semester. And, I couldn’t be more proud of them. Students, under the guidance of faculty mentors, provide free health care services and health literacy programs to vulnerable populations, including not only those who are homeless but also to those recovering from substance abuse or who live in low-income communities.

Under the direction of Liz Harrell, the Edson College program director for SHOW, the program has played an important role in the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education’s research goals, first becoming a pioneer project, then an exemplar and is now on the cusp of being named a founding partner.

Today, in a time of COVID-19 pandemic protection protocols, SHOW is making best use of technology to offer digital and virtual health care services. For example, it is promoting health literacy through pre-recorded and live online programs. In addition, the SHOW student leadership team is working with community partners to determine the best alternatives to the annual in-person health fair that won’t be held this fall because of COVID-19.

SHOW’S ability to evolve and adapt quickly is why its work continues. It has changed its economic model from relying on grants and philanthropy to a more consistent tuition-based financing system. To volunteer with SHOW, ASU students now enroll in one of three classes. Also, where once SHOW operated a clinic at set locations, it now delivers holistic health care beyond walls, going where needed. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also give major credit to the students who have created a self-sustaining and innovative program that seamlessly transitions, serving more and more in our community each year, even as the students themselves graduate and move on to continue this work in a professional health setting.

Assuming responsibility for our communities is an essential attribute of our university, it’s also part of the oath we take as health care professionals.  SHOW is a prime example of this in action and I hope to see it replicated across colleges nationwide.