Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Medical Students Taking on a Good Cause

Medical Students Taking on a Good Cause

medical-students-taking-on-a-good-cause- image0Lubbock is blessed with financially healthy hospitals.  This is good for Texas Tech Physicians and we enjoy working with the leadership of UMC, Covenant, Grace Hospital and Lubbock Heart Hospital in carrying out our mission. Our community is fortunate in this regard—to have strong hospitals. That is not always the case in other parts of the country.

For example, we have seen hospitals close, usually in big cities, such as DC General (2001), New Orleans's Charity Hospital (2005), and Martin Luther King, Jr. hospital in Los Angeles (2007). It almost happened again recently in Atlanta when Grady Memorial Hospital developed financial trouble. It probably would have happened had it not been for the determination of a group of medical students.  Their story, and what we have seen here in Lubbock from medical students, is the subject of today’s column.

First, the Atlanta situation: One of the organizers of the effort to help Grady was Dr. Kate Neuhausen.  She describes in the June issue of Health Affairs what she and other leaders of a little-known student organization did to engage hundreds of students from around Georgia to help save Grady Memorial Hospital.  It is a facility that serves a disproportionate share of uncompensated care with its 900 inpatient beds, providing such services as specialized trauma, burn and psychiatric care. Neuhausen put together an organization called Health Students Taking Action Together, or HealthSTAT.  In the aforementioned article, she explains what they did. What impresses me about the students helping Grady is their energy and commitment to serving the underserved.

Now, to Lubbock:  We have seen that same spirit of service in our own medical students. The TTUHSC Student-Run Free Clinic is an urgent care clinic that provides free basic health care to the working poor and homeless population of Lubbock. Services are offered at no cost to the patient--our own physicians and medical students run the clinic on Wednesday nights.  We do have a partner, Lubbock Impact, that provides the facility, reception staff, Medicaid counseling, a free meal at 5:30 p.m., pays for the prescriptions we prescribe, and offers a clothes closet. Justin Berk, a medical student, was a key force in getting this clinic organized. Drs. Kelly Bennett and Fiona Prabhu deserve mention—but many of our faculty members have given their time to make this work.

I have been privileged to work with another medical student, Jack Chen, who organized a class for medical students on the business of health care—I have met several of them.  We will offer the class again this fall with Jeremy Landvater, also a medical student, serving as the student leader.

It is a wonderful thing to see the determination, energy and good hearts of our medical students.  If they make up their mind to take on a good cause, I would not try to stop them.