OU Med Students Learn Needs Of Low Income People

Monday, July 27th 2009, 5:58 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- While politicians in Washington debate how to provide health care to everyone, some doctors in training in Tulsa are learning how to deliver that care.

It's part of the education for students at the OU School of Community Medicine.

After a one week immersion into the needs of low income people, some students decided their specialty will be treating people who aren't getting the medical care they need.

The medical school students went on something of a field trip. They visited Tulsa's Community Service Council to find out what kind of healthcare people need.

For Chad Knight, a second year student, it was eye opening.

"You kind of live in a bubble and it's hard to get the vision of how healthcare is for everyone, not just your community," said Chad Knight, an OU Medical student.

The visits allow students to get first hand information about people who are not getting the basic medical care that many better off people take for granted.

"One of the main reasons me and my classmates came to medical school was to give back and to help people and it's really easy to slip out of that model when you don't see it every day, you don't see the need," said Chad Knight.

It's part of the curriculum for a summer institute at the OU School of Community Medicine. Students take a week long course to introduce them to a new model of healthcare for patients.

"You have to take into consideration all the things, their background, where they're coming from and I think that makes you a better practicing physician," said Kevin Gaddis, an OU Medical student.

Kevin Gaddis, from Broken Arrow went through the institute last year and says it changed how he thinks about the healthcare that's available in poor sections of Tulsa.

"You never really think about the shortcomings of the system when you have plenty of access to it," said Kevin Gaddis.

The school calls it being community conscious and it's got the potential to pay off, not just for the patients, but the medical students as well.

The students who commit to practice in what's called "under-served" areas can qualify to a tuition scholarship at OU.