The Provide Experience: Using the STAR Model
by Sara Kaye Larson, Provide Storyteller and Content Marketing Officer
I came on board as the Provide Storyteller just over a year ago. Since then, I have spent time talking with many of the health and social service workers who have attended our Referrals Trainings. The stories shared here in the Provide Experience offer us a chance to learn more about the people we train and the places they work, how our trainings support their work, and hopefully create a space where other health and social service workers can recognize themselves and learn about how others deal with the rewards and challenges of working with abortion referrals.
How many of us have used a resource center at some point? Whether it was a full-fledged office, some brochures tucked in a small corner of a room, or a toll-free number, you probably know what I’m talking about. You might not think about the person or people behind ensuring that these places have the most accurate and up-to-date information, but they are there— working hard behind the scenes.
This week I had a chance to talk to Billie in Tennessee. She works as the Wellness Coordinator at large state university. Billie says she is part of the unit at the school that covers a wide variety of wellness topics, from stress to nutrition to sexual health, for students.
It’s not surprising that she sounds energetic— you would have to be to work with all those college students. Not only does she run the resource center, but she also she manages a wellness peer group. I tell her it sounds like the school has a lot going on and ask about the attitudes surrounding reproductive health and abortion. She says, “Most of the folks that work with me have social work or public health backgrounds and I think in those professions I feel like you are more likely to find people that understand that that’s a legal and safe procedure. I feel like even if I had a coworker that disagreed with it on a personal level, they wouldn’t then espouse out in the open or advise a student to not get one – or anything like that. I think that’s just because of who we are professionally. We just understand that we are here to provide information that is unbiased and without judgement.”
A Community Outreach Coordinator from a local women’s health clinic invited Billie to the Provide training and she said she was really eager to go. “One of the reasons why I did the training is because you never know. I very well might have a student ask me about abortion and I would just rather be prepared with that knowledge.”
She tells me that she was relatively new to Tennessee when she went to the training, so there was a lot she didn’t know about reproductive health access and services. The training she went to was with a small group of seven people from various local organizations. “We all kind of had different backgrounds in terms of the populations that we worked with so we could kind of share what our experiences have been,” she says. “It was a neat way to get a pulse on what people learn here in regards to sexual health and reproduction and abortion myths and things like that. It was cool and the facilitators did a really good job of getting that discussion going and getting us to share and talk about those things, so it was a lot of fun.”
I am very excited to hear Billie’s specifics on what she took away from the training— especially because she mentioned our STAR model. The STAR model stands for Supportive, Thorough, Active, and Referral quality. She says that after she returned to work, she used the STAR model right away and focused on making sure she and her staff were active in ensuring their resource materials included high-quality accurate information (that’s the “A” in our STAR model). She tells me, “We went back over all of our online resources and handouts and founds some errors. What I also plan on doing before the academic year is looking at what’s available for different populations— going through to make sure I have a variety of stuff on there so depending on a student’s situation they might be able to find something that is more accessible to them.”
“There was another part that really affected me,” she says, “They were talking about autonomy and confidentiality and right to self-determination, which are all things that I’m familiar with my public health background, but one of the facilitators said something about not everyone is in a position where they can exercise their autonomy or where it is honored and respected and I think that was just a good reminder for me – a light bulb went off.”
I really enjoyed talking to Billie and having her confirm that we are creating light bulb moments for health and social service workers across many systems of care.