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UI med students eye program to aid local homeless population

BY BRIANNA JETT | SEPTEMBER 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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Students from four different University of Iowa colleges may soon come together to help the homeless of Iowa City get back to work.

Shady Henien, the president of the Carver College of Medicine Student Government, proposed the Get Back to Work program during a meeting Tuesday night. The program would bring together medical, pharmaceutical, dental, and social-work students in an effort to make sure the homeless of Iowa City can have both a job and good health.

“It’s just a lot of wasted potential,” Henien said. “We want to help these people get back on their feet.”

The program will allow students of the four colleges to work as a team to assist each person in need.  Medical students would provide medical care, dental students would provide dental care, pharmacy students would help with the necessary medicines, and social-work students would help evaluate what each patient needs to do to better find a job.

“I think it would be a good idea to continue beyond just the immediate medical care,” said student government member Jenna Wald.

There will also be a benefit to the students participating.

“It would be a really cool way to have a multidisciplinary approach among all the different colleges in health,” Henien said.

Other members of the student government are excited about the program. 

“I think it’s an absolutely fantastic idea,” executive council member Eric Reynolds said. “There are so many student organizations in the medical school that have little community-outreach programs like this, but none of them work interdisciplinary with any other schools.”

The collaboration among schools is important to provide real-world experience for the medical students, because current medical practices work together to treat a patient.

“The future of health care is going to be a team-based approach,” Reynolds said. “Learning how to do that at an early age is a fantastic idea.”

Members said the program would provide a need to people who cannot provide for themselves.

“Anyone who goes downtown on a weekend or a weeknight is able to see that there is a large population that aren’t able to provide for themselves,” Wald said.

The program is still in development, but Henien hopes to have it running by the end of the semester.

Henien hopes to form a sort of partnership with the local Free Medical Clinic in Iowa City. The student government wishes to borrow space and use the existing physicians in order to write prescriptions, which they are not able to yet do.

Student government member Ambrose Munro believes it is a great idea, as long as it is done right.

“I like it quite a bit. It does a good job of organizing all the schools together for a joint purpose,” Munro said. “[But] It’s all about the implementation of it.”


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