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During a “Stroke Busters” workshop in July, David Tong, a physician assistant in YNHH’s Neuro ICU, showed local high school students how plaque can form in arteries and lead to stroke. YNHH Stroke Program staff and physicians led a variety of sessions during the workshop, designed to teach students about stroke and related healthcare careers. 

During summer program, local high school students proved to “BE FAST” learners

What did you do on your summer vacation?

Thanks to clinicians at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale Medicine, 13 local high school students can say they learned how to save lives.

The students participated in the first-ever Stroke Busters workshop, taught by experts from YNHH’s Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center. The hospital partnered with Yale University’s Office of New Haven Affairs to offer the workshop, part of Yale’s Pathways Summers Scholars program.

The five-day workshop taught students about the different types of strokes, risk factors, and prevention and treatment options. Students also learned stroke signs and symptoms, indicated by the acronym BE FAST: Balance loss; Eyes (blurred vision); Face drooping; Arm (or leg) weakness; Speech problems; Time (call 911 immediately). 

Students worked with a neurosurgery physician resident and physician assistant to perform clot-removal simulations as they learned about mechanical thrombectomy procedures. Students also met with different healthcare professionals who care for stroke patients, including a neurophysiology technologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, stroke neurologist, neuroscience nurse and pharmacist. 

Taking the information from the first three sessions, students visited Yale School of Nursing and participated in simulated stroke codes. Instructors reinforced the importance of calling 911 immediately after noticing stroke signs and symptoms, as students explored the negative outcomes that can occur when people delay coming to the hospital. For the last day of the workshop, students created posters to educate their community about stroke.  

“With so many people unable to recognize stroke symptoms, the information these students received could save lives,” said Ranisha Parker RN, Stroke Center outreach and integration nurse coordinator.

In addition to Parker, Kris Allen, RN, Neuroscience and Epilepsy (SP 6-3); Rachel Forman, MD, stroke neurologist; Karin Nystrom, APRN, Stroke Program manager; and Samantha Salas, APRN, Yale Neurology, were involved in developing and implementing the workshop.

“This workshop highlighted the commitment that YNHH and Yale University staff have for the community,” Parker said. “Staff members eagerly volunteered their time and went above and beyond to ensure it was a fun learning experience for the students.”

The Stroke Center’s outreach program, Stamp Out Stroke, provides stroke awareness and prevention education throughout the community. Interested in participating? Email [email protected].