412 Medical Group teams up with base community to raise awareness about women's health Published Sept. 19, 2022 By Linda Davis 412th Medical Group EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 412th Medical Group at Edwards AFB is teaming up with the base community to raise awareness about Women’s Health. On 28 September, the Base Exchange is hosting an event to honor National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. In addition, the 412th Medical Group is sponsoring our Breast Cancer Awareness 5K walk/run and Health Fair on 5 October 2022. To help spotlight both events, we interviewed the 412 Medical Group’s Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Capt Alissa Vigil, to gain her perspective on issues pertaining to Women’s Health. Capt Vigil, how long have you been stationed here at Edwards AFB as the 412 MDG Women’s Health Provider? I have been stationed her since October 2018, so I am approaching my fourth year at Edwards AFB. What lead you to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner? In the year after I received my undergraduate degree I worked in transitional housing, helping mothers experiencing homelessness secure permanent housing, as well as working in the Head Start daycare associated with the housing center. It was at that point that I became passionate about health and advocacy for women, and helping women achieve their reproductive and health goals. Shortly after I applied to a Nurse Practitioner program with a focus in Women’s Health and after completing that program started my Active Duty Service. What changes have you seen in your population’s health /women’s health in the last 3 years? I have seen many women who have delayed or deferred their routine screenings. In part this was due to pandemic-related restrictions, when facilities were limiting routine cervical cancer screenings or breast cancer screenings. Many of my patients have also been providing care to other family members or loved ones and their own health was not prioritized. Luckily we are seeing many of our patients catching up on their screenings and coming back in to the clinic. We have also seen more social media content that relates to women’s health. It is wonderful to see more mainstream interest in women’s health topics, and to see people connecting and learning from each other. It is also important to remember to check your sources, or ask for a second opinion with a trusted healthcare provider. What actions do you recommend to your patients when the say they want to be “more healthy”. I always recommend evaluating the basics – sleep, nutrition, stress, and exercise play such an important role in our overall health. I recommend picking one small thing at a time to change, something that you want to stick with. It’s tough to give any one recommendation because “healthy” looks very different from person to person. I know I’m not going to train for a marathon, but I can commit to taking my dog for a walk after work! I am always glad to see patients for “well” visits so we can talk about all of the things happening in their lives and find the best ways to keep them healthy. What are some of the reasons women put off having a mammogram, are they painful? Some women have expressed concerns that they are painful. While some women may feel pain during mammograms, most women describe them as uncomfortable due to the pressure. Generally the whole procedure only takes a few minutes. At other times it’s a just a matter of forgetting, or putting it off because something else has come up. I usually recommend trying to do health screenings in your birth month so it’s easier to remember. It can also be confusing that some guidelines advise to start screening mammograms at 40 years old, and other guidelines recommend starting at 50. This can be another topic to bring up with your healthcare team, as your best plan of care can depend on your history, your breast density, and your family history. Why is it important to promote community events like National Women’s Health & Fitness Day or Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Events like these are great reminders for women to prioritize our health which sometimes gets neglected for other priorities in our busy lives. Also, we know that prevention and early detection of diseases are the key to life-long health. It’s important to highlight the need to get routine check-ups to detect or prevent conditions early, while treatment is most effective. And finally, for awareness. Events like these are great opportunities to learn new things and connect with others in our community. You never know how or who you may impact by sharing your story, listening to other’s, or just coming out and showing your support. Thank you to Capt Vigil and the Women’s Health Team of the 412 Medical Group for the excellent care they provide for our population. We look forward to all those who can join us for National Women’s Health & Fitness Day on 28 Sep 22 at the Base Exchange and our Breast Cancer Awareness 5K/Health Fair at the Fitness Center on 5 October. For more information about these events, please contact Linda Davis at (661) 275-2737.