Local health care leaders and learners provide free sports physicals and screenings to area students

Local health care leaders and learners provide free sports physicals and screenings to area students

An annual outreach effort led by WVU Medicine and WVU School of Medicine faculty and staff is helping monitor the health of hundreds of local students by providing them with free sports physicals and health screenings.

Cathy Funk, M.D., an assistant professor at the School of Medicine’s Eastern Campus, has served as the coordinator for WVU Medicine’s Free Sports Physicals & Health Fest since 2017.

The event consists of multiple clinics held during the first week of June. Middle and high school students in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties are eligible to participate. Screenings are performed by volunteers consisting of faculty, staff and medical students.

The 2024 Free Sports Physicals & Health Fest was held June 4-6 at the WVU Health Sciences Center in Martinsburg and at Harpers Ferry Family Medicine. A total of 585 Berkeley County students and 220 Jefferson County students received physicals and screenings across the two events.

Dr. Funk credited the success of this event largely due to the generosity of the community volunteers, who worked together to assess patients quickly and efficiently.

“These sports physicals are important for every student to receive to make sure they can participate in activities safely throughout the next academic school year,” she said. “Having physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons helping with this event, student-athletes can ask questions about their joints related to their sport and are given stretches and advice to prevent injuries. This is an opportunity that would not happen at a regular office visit.”

Funk said the event is a fantastic learning opportunity for the medical student volunteers, as it provides them with hands-on clinical experience with both patients and faculty members.

“Students get to work closely with faculty, but more importantly, they get to directly assess a large number of pediatric patients in a relatively short time,” she said. “It’s also an opportunity for them to gain experience working with primarily healthy patients, which isn’t always common during the early phases of medical training.”

In addition to assessing students’ physical health, the program also emphasizes mental health. Funk explained that the mental health screenings consist of a series of questions focused on feelings of anxiousness and depression. She said this relatively new initiative is part of an ongoing mission to further address the mental health needs of adolescent-aged children in the area.

To stay updated with everything at the School of Medicine’s Eastern Campus, visit medicine.hsc.wvu.edu/eastern.