STEPS Health Initiative

photo of a student with a patientSTEPS is an organization conceptualized and led by a group of interprofessional students from WSU Boonshoft School of Medicine, Cedarville University School of Pharmacy, Kettering College Master of Physician Assistance Studies (MPAS) Program, the University of Dayton Master of Physician Assistant Practice (MPAP) Program, the WSU College of Nursing and Health and WSU School of Professional Psychology.


To promote healthy behaviors and assist in the management of chronic illnesses in vulnerable populations in the Dayton area.


  • To understand social determinants of health.
  • Create a student-led interdisciplinary team.
  • Learn patient-centered care through motivational interviewing.
  • Provide community outreach.
  • Empower participants to make healthy life choices.

History: A STEP in the right direction

STEPS was formed in 2012 as a student-led interdisciplinary team to address the health concerns of the homeless population of Dayton. Since that time it has grown to include more than six different health disciplines, and currently hosts sessions at two homeless shelters in the Dayton area: the Saint Vincent De Paul Gateway Shelter for Men and the Gateway Shelter for Women and Families.

At each STEPS Initiative session, students from health programs at Wright State University, Cedarville University, University of Dayton and Kettering College work side-by-side to take participants’blood pressure, weight and BMI. Participants then enter a room with two students to detail their health status and open a dialogue about the participant’s current health state. Utilizing motivational interviewing, students log three health goals for each participant, and his or her progress is noted on future visits. In considering their current health state, participants are empowered to take STEPS towards a healthier lifestyle.

What to expect: Saturday mornings begin with a small meeting to run through the day and review motivational interviewing. We begin seeing residents at 9 a.m. If this is your first time volunteering at the shelter you will be interviewing residents with someone who has been to a session before with the idea that the next time you come you will be able to lead someone else. We stop seeing patients at 11:30 a.m. and end our day with a brief meeting and try to have all volunteers out by noon.

What STEPS is NOT: a health clinic where we treat actual diseases or health problems. We try to make it very clear that while we can offer advice or direction about healthy habits as well as point out medical resources, we cannot/do not actually treat the health problems.

Information for Service Learning Credit



St. Vincent de Paul Gateway Shelter for Men
Where: 1921 S. Gettysburg Ave., Dayton, OH 45417
When: First and third Saturdays of each month

St. Vincent de Paul Gateway Shelter for Women and Families
Where: 120 W. Apple St., Dayton, OH 45402
When: Second Saturday of each month

Our goal is to become involved in more areas of Dayton as we build our volunteer base

Time: 8 a.m.–noon (three Saturdays every month)


July 31, 2014 — The student-run STEPS Initiative was awarded a one-year grant from Wright State University's Division of Multicultural Affairs & Community Engagement by the steering committee for the Social Entrepreneurship Fund.

One of only two awards presented, the one-year award will allow this interdisciplinary team of students to address two important issues facing our Dayton Community.

The first issue is lack of access to health care for Dayton’s most vulnerable populations. This award will assist the initiative to address the access that homeless persons in the Dayton area have to healthcare by providing preventive health guidance from a multidisciplinary perspective and connecting participants with resources to further advance their health goals.

The second issue is the fragmentation and isolation of medicine, which is being faced not only by the Greater Dayton community, but also by the entire healthcare community. In order to best service our patients, persons from all realms of health must collaborate. The STEPS Initiative hopes to break down barriers by bringing together students from medicine, nursing, pharmacy, psychology and other allied health fields to collaborate and meet the needs of our participants. We believe the STEPS Initiative not only has the potential to officially ground interdisciplinary healthcare collaboration at Wright State University but also to promote interdisciplinary education that will lead to better healthcare professionals to serve our community.

Last edited on 05/11/2016.