Student-Run Health Project Brings Classroom Experiences to 'Real World' Situations
Published August 2006
AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati (AVOC) focuses on prevention, and it’s that perspective that draws UC College of Medicine student Arjun Bansal to the group’s Over-the- Rhine facility each day.
At AVOC, Bansal spends his time in the community outreach division, working to raise awareness about the organization and its services—which include free, anonymous HIV testing, counseling and education, and distribution of free contraception.
“Preventive medicine, and especially AIDS prevention, is so important,” says Bansal. “A doctor should pay attention to what happens not only after a patient comes down with an illness, but before as well. That’s the only way we’ll ever learn how to prevent illness in the first place.”
Bansal, who is entering his second year of medical school, is just one of 22 interns working at 20 different sites this summer as part of the College of Medicine’s Urban Health Project—a student-run program that for more than two decades has placed UC’s medical students into urban health care settings to help the underserved population.
The Urban Health Project, believed to be the only nonprofit organization nationwide run entirely by medical students, is led each year by two codirectors responsible for budget development, fundraising, site selection, recruitment of new “staff” and general promotion.Funds raised are used to cover administrative costs and promotion and to pay the summer interns’ modest stipends.
Heideh Husseinzadeh and Abby Loftus, 2006 codirectors, raised nearly $80,000 to support the project and the summer 2006 interns.
The 2007 codirectors, Clare Herlihy and Julia Kloenne, are now beginning fundraising for next year. The two hope to be just as successful so they can continue to support as many, if not more, interns.
“Cincinnati is fortunate to have lots of resources for the underserved, but many organizations rely heavily on volunteers to meet the needs of the population,” says Kloenne. “We’d love to be able to support these groups by offering them even more summer interns, because not only are the organizations being helped, our students are also learning a lot.”
The Urban Health Project’s goal is to give the students a chance to better understand how cultural, socioeconomic and environmental factors affect health.
“The hope is that our interns will learn to see the whole person and not just his or her physical ailments,” says Kloenne.
In 2006, the Urban Health Project won the Spirit of Service award from the College of Medicine and was also nominated for a Cincinnati Business Courier Health Care Heroes award. To learn more about the Urban Health Project, visit www. med.uc.edu/uhp.