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UMass Medical School students incorporating firearm safety into health care education

Telegram reports on Initiatives including new elective and SAFE chapter

(from left) Patrick Lowe, Michael Hirsh and Deniz Cataltepe are pictured at the Stand SAFE firearm safety observance held at UMass Medical School on Sept. 16.

School of Medicine students at UMass Medical School are working to address firearm safety through a new optional enrichment elective on gun violence and a newly formed chapter of the national organization SAFE (Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic). The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports on their efforts in an article published on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

“Firearm safety is another opportunity for the state’s only public medical school to take a lead in Massachusetts,” said MD/PhD candidate Patrick Lowe. “Students want this to be a part of their education.”

Lowe spearheaded the firearm safety elective along with Deniz Cataltepe, SOM ’22; Anna Klouda, SOM ’20; Cameron Thomson, SOM ’21; and Alexander Schmidt, SOM ’21. The class comprises a series of lectures, simulations, field trips and group presentations through which students gain an understanding of the current crisis of gun violence, how they can incorporate preventive techniques into their practice and the current state of gun laws and regulations. Guest lecturers include the chief of the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, a National Rifle Association safety coach, a member of the Worcester Police Department Gang Task Force, a Worcester juvenile court judge, and Massachusetts chapter leaders of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. They bring perspectives from a broad spectrum of community constituents.

Cataltepe is president of the UMMS chapter of SAFE and a founding member of the national organization. She is involved in developing a standardized curriculum on firearm violence prevention, gun laws, epidemiology and how to counsel patients at risk for firearm injuries. SAFE anticipates rolling out the curriculum to all national chapters in the spring of 2020.

“As medical students being trained to protect our patients’ physical and mental health, we were struck by the lack of medical education and research funding available for such a devastating issue,” said Cataltepe. “We support SAFE to highlight the need to incorporate teaching on firearm safety and gun violence into the medical education curriculum for medical students. We also support SAFE’s efforts to empower health care providers to advocate for federal funding of research on firearm violence prevention.”

On Monday, Sept. 16, the UMMS chapter of SAFE participated in the nationwide “Stand SAFE” observance to raise awareness about the need for health care providers to address gun safety issues, support the victims of firearm violence and promote federal funding of firearm violence prevention research.

Students were supported by Michael Hirsh, MD, professor of surgery, assistant vice provost for wellness and health promotion, chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery and surgeon-in-chief for the UMass Memorial Children’s Center. Dr. Hirsh established the Worcester Injury Free Coalition for Kids, established the city’s annual Goods for Guns buyback program, and served as medical director and acting commissioner of the Worcester Department of Public Health.

“Your involvement in grassroots education is going to make the biggest difference in us having a proactive approach to firearm injuries,” he told the students. “Physicians can address things that raise the level of lethality of gun ownership every day, in every encounter.”

Read the full Telegram article at: UMass Medical students join SAFE call for gun violence prevention

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