Every year, the Cancer Resource Center (CRC) at Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) in Arlington, Va., sponsors a free cervical cancer screening event that aims to target women who are uninsured or underinsured in the local community. The CRC partners with the VHC’s Clinic and Pathology departments to provide pap smears and follow-up care as necessary.
However, due to the impact of COVID-19, additional assistance was required at this year’s screening to ensure proper screening and social distancing. Stepping in to help on October 17 were five Marymount University graduate students from the Counseling department who assisted staff in the event’s execution by registering patients, serving as patient chaperones, preparing and disinfecting exam rooms and maintaining a calm atmosphere.
“Thanks to the help of our phenomenal Marymount volunteers, our screening this year ran smoother than ever, which allowed us to screen a significantly larger amount of women than we originally had planned,” explained Dr. Mirian Campos, a visiting Assistant Professor at Marymount and the co-faculty advisor for the Counseling Honor Society, Chi Sigma Iota. In addition to her teaching in the Counseling program, she also works at the Cancer Resource Center as well.
Following the event, it was calculated that a total of 73 women were screened over a four-hour period thanks to the generosity of these student volunteers.
“What a beautiful and humbling experience, seeing people taking care of one another and themselves in this critically important way,” said Rebecca Fisher, a student in Marymount’s Pastoral Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. “It was a lesson in empathy, but also in courage, caring and self-giving.”
“I thought it was a great opportunity to help give back to the community and provide essential, lifesaving services free of charge,” added Nicolas Zapata, a Clinical Mental Health Counseling student at Marymount. “The hospital staff was extremely kind and appreciative and we all enjoyed speaking to and learning from them.”
Joining Dr. Campos, Fisher and Zapata were student volunteers Itzel Munoz, Deborah Rackham and Jessica Speckhard.