Release Date: April 4, 2016
BUFFALO, N.Y. —Visits to a mosque, an Eastside church and a Buddhist monastery in Buffalo, meetings with refugees, and lectures and discussions with community leaders about poverty and public health are on the agenda this week for 13 first-year students in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.
The school’s first-ever community immersion program takes place April 4 - 8, during the students’ spring break. A schedule of events is below and many are open to members of the media. Interested media should contact Ellen Goldbaum, firstname.lastname@example.org, 716-645- 4605.
The idea for the pilot community immersion program came from students involved with the Center for Medical Humanities in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The center focuses on psychological, social, cultural, and economic forces that influence the practice of medicine and the doctor-patient relationship.
“The students said to me, ‘We want to spend spring break making connections with members of the community outside of the medical school on their own turf,’” said Linda Pessar, MD, professor emerita of psychiatry and director of the UB Center for Medical Humanities. “They thought it was important for them to understand the Buffalo community in which they were learning about medicine and the people who came for care.”
Pessar said that these concerns are being expressed nationally, especially in academic medicine circles.
“Throughout medicine, there is increased interest in becoming more accessible to the average person and not putting up so many hierarchical obstacles, which are especially true for people living in poverty and from other cultures,” she said.
It’s part of a trend Pessar has seen increase over the past few years at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“There is a core of students here that is really interested in global health and wellness in the underserved, which is wonderful to see and which the medical school is nurturing,” she said.
At the same time, she added, with the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences moving downtown by 2017, outreach to the community will be more important than ever.
“Involvement of our school with the community is of enormous importance to the medical school as we move downtown,” Pessar said. “We want very much to be good neighbors.
“The students want to meet people in the community on their own terms and speak to them in a context in which they feel comfortable.”
Topics students want to discuss include how people in the community experience health care, what they think are impediments to health and wellness, what could make a difference to how comfortable they feel within the health care system and what changes would improve access for them.
Pessar said the response from Buffalo’s community organizations was amazingly positive.
“Everyone was immediately on board,” she said.
She added that strong support came from the administration of the medical school including Alan Lesse, MD, senior associate dean for curriculum and David Milling, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs.
The schedule is below:
History of Buffalo and its neighborhoods, April 4
Poverty including race and culture, April 5
Immigrants and refugees, April 6
Public health and wellness, April 7
Wrap up session, April 8