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UQ-Ochsner medical students volunteer at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Volunteering for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Community engagement
Published 17 May, 2024  ·  3.5 minutes

During their third and fourth-year UQ-Ochsner medical students get opportunities to volunteer through the OchsnerServes program in the New Orleans community. One of the main events is always the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, this year was no exception.

Ochsner Health was once again the official healthcare provider, keeping fest-goers safe and informed during the festival's two weekends. More than 200 medical team members make up the healthcare teams who assist with first aid needs.

Ochsner Children's Hospital was also present and serving as the title sponsor of the kids’ tent and hosting fun, STEM-focused health and wellness activities in the children's activity tent.

UQ-Ochsner medical students volunteer at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Savanah Fowler a UQ-Ochsner student said she loved discovering how vibrant the culture and people in New Orleans are when she moved over.

“I decided to volunteer at the festival as a way to give back to the community by ensuring that everyone stays safe while having fun.

“My role as a medical student was to work the Band-Aid Station (it’s way more fun than you would ever imagine),” Savanah said.

“We were the first people to greet anyone as they walked into med tent 2.

“I handed out tons of Band-Aids, gave medications for headaches, and even helped out some people who got their earbuds lodged into their ears.

“Our main role was to triage the people who didn’t need to seek proper medical care. Those who did need medical care got to meet one of the amazing doctors, nurses, or other team members. As med students, we got to come along and help take histories and be involved in the patient's care,” she said.

Savanah also got to see her favourite band, Hozier, which was a fabulous added bonus to her volunteering experience.

For Max Shteiman, a third-year UQ-Ochsner student, Jazz Fest was an opportunity to experience medicine in an environment completely different from the one in hospital where physicians have more time to think and plan for their patients.

“In a public setting, such as a large festival, our team had to be prepared to handle anything that could arise, sometimes in the matter of seconds,” said Max.

“I was the only student working with my team (Tent #1), but the nurses and doctors with me were very skilled and experienced and taught me so much.

“We saw some really acute patient cases, which was exciting and a great learning opportunity, as I saw the whole team work efficiently and effectively to take care of urgent patient cases.

“I was able to interpret ECGs, administer medications, and see a number of different acute patient presentations,” he said.

Max’s bonus? Watching headliner, The Rolling Stones perform surrounded by people from around the world and sampling muffuletta, a classic New Orleans delicacy for the first time.

UQ-Ochsner medical students volunteer at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Brian Gutierrez a fourth-year medical student had the opportunity to experience the festival last year, and he was back for the 2024 edition. For Brian, the festival represents a very fulfilling experience both cultural and medical.

“I wanted to volunteer again for Jazz Fest 2024 in New Orleans because of the amazing music, arts, culture, and people I met here,” said Brian.

“The medical team is always fun to be with and I was able to learn many emergency medicine skills, including peripheral intravenous cannulation, drug overdose management, dehydration management, and basic wound care.”

“I was assigned in one of the medical tents, tent 1, best 1, and all the medical providers were able to take their time to assist me in taking vitalism reading electrocardiograms, or proper IV cannulation technique.

“We were able to roam around the fairgrounds, while listening to good music, seeing the art, and eating the amazing New Orleans food.

“We also carried medical bags, which included a tourniquet and basic medical supplies for wounds.

“No matter what discipline of medicine you were in, we were all there with the same task of keeping the community safe and having a great time,” he said.

Some of Brian’s highlights were placing multiple IVs in, assessing whether patients needed to be escalated to a medical provider or if they need basic wound care, eye wash, and emergency medical technician assistance.

On the music front, he was able to see Bonnie Raith and Earth, Wind and Fire. When it came to food, he tasted Cochon de Lait, Crawfish Beignets, Crabcakes, Catfish Almondine, and more.

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