WALKING FOR HEALTH: Medwar, left, with two program participants
Every Tuesday morning at 7:30 am, Katie Medwar, NP, has a standing date. She and several physicians from the Primary Care Associates at Mass General West meet a group of patients in Lexington’s Depot Square. The group has their blood pressure taken, and then they are off, embarking on a two-and-a-half mile walk together down the Minuteman Bikeway. The weekly jaunt is part of a free program called “Walk with a Doc,” and it is taking the patient experience out of the doctor’s office and into fresh air.
“I don’t like to exercise,” says patient Marion Marsetta. “But it’s easier to do it when there’s good conversation. It’s a commitment. And I stick to it.”
“ ‘Walk with a Doc’ is a program designed to get people to exercise,” explains Medwar. “It’s also about supporting our patients and showing them how easy it is to make a healthy change. People walk at their own pace, and the physicians and nurse practitioners go between the groups to discuss all kinds of medical topics.”
During one outing, the conversation may focus on nutrition. Another time it may be diabetes. But no matter the topic, there is always time for individual questions as the group makes its way along the path. “It’s a great way to keep in contact with our patients, and it allows them to ask questions they may not have time for in a routine, once-a-year physical,” says Sunu Yeh, MD. “You never know where the conversation will go.”
The national nonprofit program “Walk with a Doc” was founded in 2008 by a cardiologist in Ohio. Today, hundreds of communities are lacing up to participate – both in the U.S. and around the world. The Mass General West chapter was launched this year, and it continues to grow every week.
“I show up with my own questions, and I always leave knowing the answers to them and about lots of other medical issues as well,” says patient Fredrick Crane. “You pick up bits of knowledge just from being a part of the group conversation. Plus you make friends and get a workout. You really take a lot from the experience.”
To learn more about “Walk with a Doc” at Mass General West, contact Medwar at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the nationwide program or see an updated schedule of walks, visit www.walkwithadoc.org.
Read more articles from the 10/19/12 Hotline issue.