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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona medical students focus on homeless population

Grace Pierson
Grace Pierson / The Daily Wildcat Some homeless people of Tucson wait in front of Joel V. Veldez Library for some dinner from Matthew 25 Ministries. Matthew 25 Ministries offer warm food from their van everynight in downtown Tucson.

UA students have partnered with other students across the state to help create a health care system for the homeless population in Phoenix.

The program, known as Student Health Outreach for Wellness, will be housed in the existing homeless clinic at the Central Arizona Shelter Services building in downtown Phoenix and is a collaboration between the UA, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University. The main goal of the SHOW program is to provide health care to homeless people outside of the open hours of the homeless shelter, which are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, said Maireen Nguyen, a second-year medical student at the UA.

“For a lot of the patient population, if they are trying to work, it’s difficult for them to be able to get access to the health care they need if the office is closed,” Nguyen said. “That’s the part of the need we’re trying to fill.”

While the main goal is providing health care, SHOW has two other goals it’s working toward, said Tim Ellis, co-director of the student executive committee for SHOW and a UA graduate research associate. The other goals are providing clinical education to the students of all three universities and providing education and inter-professional know-how to pre-clinical students, Ellis said.

Jacquelin Esque, a second-year UA medical student, said the partnership between schools is beneficial because it encourages students to work together for a common goal.

“It’s really a great partnership between the three universities,” Esque said. “Even though we all go to separate schools, we all have a common interest of wanting to serve the community, and a lot of us get to work together to do that.”

Each university’s medical program has a presence in downtown Phoenix: the College of Medicine of the UA, the College of Nursing and Health Innovation of ASU, and the Physician Assistant and Physical Therapy programs of NAU. The SHOW program will be a great learning experience for students in addition to the education they receive at each college, Nguyen said.

“If we hadn’t started working on this program, getting interdisciplinary, inter-professional experience would probably have to wait until we actually started working,” Nguyen said. “This is a good learning space because you’re actually doing work hands-on.”

Doctors and nurses from the community will be volunteering their time to help at the clinic and teach students as well. The program is also still looking to gain funding through grants and personal donations.
However, Nguyen said the biggest problem the program faces is losing student volunteers as classes became too hectic.

“We’re trying to modify the program now so that way we’re actually splitting the work more among students,” Nguyen said. “If people are having difficulties, they have the support they need and they can ask for help.”

Ultimately, the goal is to expand the program once it is up and running to provide opportunities for students in a variety of majors in the future. Nguyen said program members are trying to get students with a variety of majors involved.

“Not only do you get to work with students that are from different fields, but also from different schools, and I don’t know where else you can find that,” Nguyen said. “It’s a very exciting time for all of us, and I hope other people get to see that.”

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