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July 2010 Issue
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Andrea Sitlinger volunteered for the Urban Health Project at Off the Streets, a non-profit that assists women wanting to flee prostitution.
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Medical Student-Run Urban Health Project Grows

By Angela Koenig
Published July 2010

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CINCINNATI —Heading into its 25th year, the Urban Health Project (UHP) continues to expand.

"We’ve added two new sites and two new internships,” says Kelly Thomas, co-director of UHP, the all-volunteer, student-run organization founded at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1986.

The program pairs second-year medical students with existing nonprofits in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas such as Off the Streets, Tender Mercies and Lighthouse Youth Crisis Center.

In exchange for their service, students have the opportunity to gain hands-on knowledge in a social service or clinical agency. The service is free to the non-profit, but students receive a small stipend from UHP for expenses.

For eight weeks each summer, students have the opportunity to personally observe socio-economic barriers to health care. The experience challenges them to incorporate this awareness into their future practice.

"Many of our medical students haven’t worked this closely with all populations yet, so it’s really an eye-opening experience,” says Thomas.

The 2010-11 class was paired with 25 sites, says Thomas, adding that the organization had 45 applications for the 25 slots available.

Co-director Michelle Sibille says one of the outstanding aspects of the organization "is the fact that we’ve been self-sustainable for so long...we’re really excited about that.”

The organization operates on an annual budget of about $105,000, solely made up of contributions and grants, says Sibille. For more information visit med.uc.edu/uhp.

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