UNMC students to host conference on student-run health clinics

by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public relations | March 25, 2009

SHARING visions

A short video preview of this week's SHARING The Vision Conference. (Video by Andrew Nelson, UNMC public relations)

On Friday, health profession students from across the nation will come together at UNMC to share their vision for strengthening the health of Americans through student-run clinics.

The "SHARING the Vision Conference" will showcase the talents of students who have answered President Barack Obama's call to strengthen their communities by engaging in volunteer opportunities.

"Medicine is not just about treating the sick, but about ensuring the well being of a community," said Natalie Stavas, a second-year medical student at UNMC.

The multidisciplinary conference will act as a catalyst for a national, student-led movement to decrease health disparities and facilitate a spirit of service in health profession students, Stavas said.

According to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, nearly 47 million Americans, including more than 9 million children, do not have health insurance.

"Student-run clinics bring much needed health care services to individuals and families that have fallen through the safety net in our communities," said Richard Usatine, M.D., assistant director of medical humanities education at the University of Texas Health Science Center and conference presenter.

"Medicine is not just about treating the sick, but about ensuring the well being of a community."

Natalie Stavas

In 2008, UNMC's three student-run health clinics -- SHARING, GOODLIFE and RESPECT -- saw a two-fold increase in the number of patients passing through their doors.

SHARING (Student Health Alliance Reaching Indigent Needy Groups) offers general health care for adults and children and RESPECT (Responsible Early STD Prevention Education and Community Testing) offers treatment and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, both clinics are at the UNMC Community Health Center in south Omaha. The GOODLIFE (Greater Omaha Outreach for Diabetes Lifestyles Impacting Fitness and Education) clinic offers treatment of Type II diabetes and is in north Omaha.

"Student-run clinics have a tremendous impact on both the communities they serve and the students involved," said UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D. "These clinics help provide medical care to underserved populations and promote an excellent educational platform for students of all health care professions."

"One of the most important aspects of this conference is that it reinforces the interdisciplinary approach to health care as a more effective process, and it instills a sense of service, which is an important attitude for future health care providers to develop," said Bruce Lovejoy, SHARING advisory board president and an instructor in the department of community-based health in the UNMC College of Nursing.

Health profession students from 40 universities representing schools from across the United States and Canada are expected to attend the conference. It is the first conference of its kind that was entirely organized by the students.

"We are dedicated to helping those in our country that need it the most by empowering underserved communities and cultivating a passion throughout schools to create mindful health care professionals," Stavas said.