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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 07/26/01
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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Academic Health Students Provide Community Outreach through Urban Health Project

Cincinnati--Medical students at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine respond to local medical needs in Cincinnati this summer.

The Urban Health Project, a student-run summer program, is an opportunity for second-year medical students to gain experience in a social service atmosphere and learn valuable lessons working with patient populations who are medically underserved.

Twenty-eight UC medical students dedicate eight weeks of summer as interns for nonprofit social service and clinical agencies in Cincinnati.

According to Andi Funderburg, student director of the Urban Health Project, the mission of the 16-year-old project is to expose medical students to the cultural and environmental dynamics of urban healthcare needs and offer public assistance in Cincinnati.

A previous intern, Karen Hover, referred to the experience as "social learning rather than scientific learning. It is a chance to start appreciating the many factors which contribute to health and disease."

The 25 local nonprofit organizations, such as Crossroad Health Center, Tender Mercies and Lighthouse Youth Crisis Center, gain free assistance from medical student interns. In exchange for their service, students have the opportunity to gain hands-on knowledge in a social service or clinical agency. This year, three new sites, Elm Street Clinic, Stepping Stones and the UC Family Practice, have partnered with the UC Urban Health Project to provide additional community assistance.

"Every year the Urban Health Project has given us the opportunity to continue serving the community," said Sally Stewart, executive director of Crossroad Health Center. "We have been able to establish relationships with UC medical students." According to Stewart, Crossroad has been involved with the Urban Health Project for the past six years and continues to look to UC medical students to help keep their center running smoothly.

Interns are compensated with a summer stipend from the Urban Health Project grant, funded by contributions and donations from public and private organizations.

As the director, Funderburg is planning to raise funds to match the $80,000 available for this summer's program and will arrange an Urban Health Project lecture series throughout the upcoming school year, including lunchtime speakers and possible workshops.

"I hope students walk away from this experience with an improved sense of compassion and understanding to become better healthcare providers," Funderburg said.

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