One of the Many Faces of The Bridge: Nikki VandenBerg, Volunteer Doctor
Nikki VandenBerg, third year resident and physician with Broadway Family Physicians, is a familiar face at The Bridge for Youth. Nikki, along with six other physicians from Broadway and community volunteers, staffs the medical clinic located on the first floor of the red brick building on West 22nd Street.
The clinic is small, just two small rooms. Yet, lots of work takes place when the doors open every Tuesday.
This Tuesday afternoon a tall teenage boy exits the exam room after spending about 30 minutes with Dr. VandenBerg. The boy arrived at the Emergency Shelter three days ago. His health assessment revealed that he has not seen a doctor in a long time. A second boy, about 15, completes his health intake form, awaiting his turn with the doctor.
VandenBerg specializes in family medicine and has an interest in working with underserved youth. The clinic at The Bridge gives her a chance to work with young people in a setting unlike that of a busy clinic. Without a long line of patients and general “hustle and bustle”, VandenBerg can take the time to listen to what’s on kids’ minds.
“I see a lot young males here,” she said. “Typically you won’t get this population walking in to find out information about STDs or sexual health or mental health.” At The Bridge, teenage boys seem to seize the opportunity to talk with a doctor. VandenBerg’s approachable manner seems to make that easy.
In a typical visit, VandenBerg takes vital signs, checks blood pressure and weight, and refills prescriptions. Education is always an important component of each visit. “While some kids have good information, there are still a significant amount of myths out there,” says VandenBerg. She adds, “Teenagers think they are invincible. It might not seem like a big deal to a kid that they’re using marijuana. It’s important to review with kids what can happen to you over time with prolonged use.”
VandenBerg also dispenses career advice to the many young people who express an interest in the medical field. She has a list of resources where kids can connect with mentors and gain work experience.
You can support the health clinic at The Bridge for Youth by donating gently used household items to our yard sale. Donations will be accepted beginning May 7. Drop off at 4249 Linden Hills Boulevard, Minneapolis. Sale date is May 18.