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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    CUP lets med students help underserved locals

    UA medical students are participating in a free program to help locals who may not otherwise receive treatment.

    Patients in the Commitment of Underserved People program’s eight clinics include refugees seeking asylum, or individuals who have been victims of torture.

    They include Tucson residents Alberto Alegria and his wife, who is pregnant.

    “”I like the clinic because the medical students are nice,”” Alegria said. “”They are excellent and take care of people.””

    As part of the UA’s College of Medicine, CUP has provided health care to the needy since 1979, according to the program’s Web site.

    CUP counts toward students’ education in their field, allowing them to accrue required volunteer hours and potentially elective credit.

    Much of the work consists of check-ups, but it constitutes many patients’ primary source of health care. It also helps expecting patients get through their pregnancies.

    Patients see two medical students at a time, an experienced third- or fourth-year student and a first-year student.

    Katherine Downey, a fourth-year pathology student, said she sees CUP as a way to stay in touch with patients, as her field will have no patient care.

    “”The clinic is a chance for us to practice what we have learned as well as help underserved people,”” she said.

    The students involved are not yet doctors but are trained to do examinations. They get the patient’s history, do a physical and then seek advice from a licensed physician like Naja McKenzie, who is on call to mentor.

    The student and the physician discuss possible diagnoses and decide on a plan of treatment together, McKenzie said.

    “”Most of the patients have a medical problem,”” she said. “”We are able to get them medication at a bargain price.””

    “”Mostly I like it because it’s free,”” Alegria said.

    Paula Hughes, a senior program coordinator for CUP and a registered nurse, called CUP a “”very exciting learning experience for the students, as well as a unique opportunity for the indigent populations to get medical care.””

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