Future doctors take to the community

New Penn Medicine medical school program apprentices students to community health workers in Philadelphia

Medical students seldom learn much about the real-life problems (hunger, joblessness, addiction) their patients face outside the clinic walls. Yet, these problems are at the root of poor health in many low-income communities. A new article published today in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved describes a new approach to educating medical students about the real world.

The course, developed by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, apprentices medical students to community health workers (CHWs) in inner city Philadelphia. CHWs are trusted laypeople who come from the local community, hired and trained by healthcare organizations to support high-risk patients. 

By pairing up with community health workers, students had the opportunity to understand life from a different perspective. Most students had not experienced poverty or trauma in their own lives. The course also helped students to overcome implicit bias and discrimination, which often permeates healthcare experiences.

Read more at Penn Medicine News.