On Thursday, the Bowdoin Public Health Club (BPHC), in alignment with their mission to educate and secure Bowdoin and its greater community, hosted Bowdoin’s second naloxone workshop. Workshop participants left with certification in administering Narcan (a brand of naloxone) and a deeper understanding of substance abuse in Maine.
Naloxone is a powerful treatment for opioid overdoses, as it rapidly reverses the effects of the drug to provide immediate relief. Naloxone is not harmful if an overdose is misdiagnosed.
BPHC’s recent naloxone workshop is just one example of the club’s involvement in public health education and community service.
BPHC works alongside Greater Brunswick community organizations to connect students with local volunteer opportunities. Hilary Eslinger, a representative from the educational organization Maine Access Points, was invited to lead the workshop discussion. Eslingler spoke about her experiences fighting the devastating effects of drug abuse across the state. BPHC chose to work with Maine Access Points because of the organization’s focus on harm reduction – a key component of public health.
“Harm reduction is the idea of mitigating the negative consequences of drug use. People will use drugs. Instead of trying to stop them by putting them behind bars, [the goal of] harm reduction is educating them on how to protect themselves,” said BPHC head Jared Lynch ’24. “It’s about treating people with respect and giving them the resources they need.”
The scope of public health is broad, and BPHC leaders use this freedom to address the community’s many challenges. Last year, the Department of Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Health Education (GVPHE) held the first student naloxone workshop. When Efraim Boamah ’25, another BPHC leader, learned that GVPHE had no plans to host the workshop again, he saw the perfect opportunity for BPHC to get involved.
The timing of this naloxone workshop coincides with Bowdoin’s consideration of campus-wide Narcan distribution. With the possibility of Narcan being made available in residence halls and college offices, Boamah wanted to make this year’s seminar more practical than the last. His goal was for each participant to leave confident in their ability to administer Narcan in a crisis. Unlike last year’s workshop that focused on instructor demonstrations, participants this year could inject Narcan into oranges and practice using the Narcan nasal spray.
In planning the naloxone workshop, Boamah contacted Bowdoin’s Underrepresented in the Medical Professions (BUMP) club to get more students involved.
“We can interact with other people and really see their humanity. It highlights how health really is influenced by so many other things besides one’s biological makeup,” Boamah explains.
The naloxone workshop’s community outreach and public service focus is present in all BPHC projects and events. Through BPHC, Bowdoin students volunteer with dementia patients, cook meals for food-insecure families, and work in hospital emergency departments. Through the club’s other events, such as volunteer programming with seniors at Bath Brunswick Respite Care or food sorting with Midcoast Hunger Prevention, BPHC hopes to reach people of all ages, genders and backgrounds with their events.
“BPHC is for students who are not only interested in the hospital setting or, even if they are, who want to learn what [healthcare] it looks like outside of volunteering or shadowing at a hospital,” said BPHC head Sam Koegler ’26.
The club is made up of students with a wide range of majors and interests with the common interest of hopefully getting off campus and helping others in the community.
“It’s the humanism of medicine,” Lynch said. “[T]here is a Bowdoin bubble that I find more than I realized when I first got here. I feel like being able to see who’s out in the community and also interact with them — have conversations — is really, really important.”