Statement on Student Wellness Initiative Toward Community Health

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The member from Saskatoon Eastview and I had the pleasure of touring the SWITCH [student wellness initiative toward community health] clinic in the heart of the community of Riversdale in Saskatoon on Saturday.
The student wellness initiative towards community health or SWITCH is a student-managed, intercollaborative, patient-centred clinic where many disciplines — social work, medicine, nursing, physiotherapy, psychology, nutrition, just to name a few — come together around the client to provide the best care possible. The SWITCH health project allows for the extension of the hours of the well-utilized Westside clinic. The student volunteers provide the services from their respective disciplines under the direct supervision of licensed health care professionals.

Aside from the direct health care services, SWITCH clients also have access to things like a needle exchange; affordable, healthy food; immunizations; use of a phone; free child care for program participants; advocacy and other programming.
Brenda Jackson, a soon-to-be nurse, says one of the best parts of SWITCH for her is the learning that takes place. No matter what a textbook says or what takes place in the classroom, she has said there’s nothing better than hearing it first-hand from the person experiencing it so you can learn from them how best to help address the issue. Says Jackson:
You’re learning from the clients, you’re learning from the mentors, and the mentors are learning from the students. In that interdisciplinary environment, everyone is learning from each other. It’s a big house of creativity where you’re finding real solutions, not just band-aids.

SWITCH is one of only five student-run primary health care clinics in Canada with a fifth opening recently in Regina called SEARCH [Student Energy in Action for Regina Community Health].

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