A Reflection on the 2018 KDSAP Retreat

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The Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP) is a national undergraduate student-run organization founded by Dr. Li Li Hsiao, a nephrologist at Harvard University. Our mission is to provide free health care and education to communities in need, while simultaneously providing undergraduate students the opportunity to learn hands on skills and exposure to medicine. We accomplish this through student run health screenings focused on the detection of chronic kidney disease.

Every year, KDSAP holds a weekend retreat to bring KDSAP members from across the country together. This past October, it was hosted by the Harvard University chapter in Boston. The purpose of the retreat is to provide a chance for students from across the country to network and learn from each others’ trials, tribulations, and successes.

Retreat participants: Aastha Dharia, Claire Wixson, KDSAP founder Dr. Li Li Hsiao, Jeremy Policht, and Karthik Pittala (L to R)

After checking out Harvard Square and Cambridge, we headed to the retreat site. From networking to problem solving, our retreat covered it all. We were treated to some great guest lectures that touched on a wide array of topics.  Dr. Jeffrey Berns from the University of Pennsylvania spoke about “The Past, Present and Future of Nephrology”;  Harvard’s Dr. Edgar Milford provided a history of kidney transplants and dialysis; and Dr. Betsy Srichai gave life advice as a nephrologist who had been practicing for years.  We also heard about ongoing KDSAP research based on data derived from the screening programs around the country.  It was great to get a perspective on the greater nephrology community, and we all definitely walked away with new knowledge and some interesting things to think about.

Even with all of the other components, the retreat was also about sharing our experiences with KDSAP and learning from other chapters. We spent a lot of time discussing topics such as member engagement, community partnership, funding, successful screening techniques, and more. We learned about the challenges and successes of other chapters and shared our own. Through a few collective brainstorms, we were all able to offer our experiences and learn from those of other universities. These ideas and experiences inspired us to come up with more innovative ideas for our own chapter. When we came back to Michigan, most of our next board meeting was spent discussing the new possibilities we could add to our existing plans for the club.

After sorting through all the ideas and advice, our club is currently scheduled to run two kidney disease screenings before the semester is over. A few weeks ago, we trained our members in the proper techniques necessary for hosting a successful screening, and we are all very excited to get started! In addition, we’ve lined up opportunities for shadowing in order to provide exposure to nephrology as a field, and are hoping to set up a variety of community engagement and education opportunities such as elementary school collaborations and kidney dissections for university students.

All in all, the retreat was a great experience; we can’t wait to head back again next year!

Post by: University of Michigan KDSAP (@kdsapofficial)

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