After learning that schools in Harrogate, Tennessee, had cut funding for health education, Juan Querubin, OMS III, arranged for medical students to teach free weekly health classes at the affected schools. It’s one way Querubin, who attends the Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM), has sought to improve the health care landscape in the Harrogate area, where 2 in 10 people live in poverty.
Other community projects Querubin has spearheaded in Harrogate include CPR training in high schools and starting a local Walk with a Doc program to connect community members with physicians during organized walks.
“Launching these programs has made me a better student doctor. I’m much more understanding of the patients I interact with during my clinical rotations,” says Querubin.
Historically, the osteopathic medical profession has provided care in underserved areas. Many students go overseas on medical mission trips; they should also consider creating programs to improve health care in their own communities, Querubin says, noting that the business and leadership skills gained by taking such projects on are very applicable to the practice of medicine.
Learning the business of medicine
Organizing new community programs helped Querubin develop his business skills by writing grants and creating budgets. His leadership skills grew as he learned how to manage and work on teams with the LMU-DCOM students he engaged to volunteer.
“Outreach can be a great way to build on skills you had prior to coming to medical school and to cultivate skills you want to develop before residency,” he says.
Brushing up on grant-writing skills can also prove useful for students who might seek funding for research one day. Students working in underserved areas can gain valuable insights into how grassroots community programs bridge care gaps in these areas.
Living the DO mission
Doing community outreach has also helped prepare Querubin to treat patients using a whole-person approach.
“I’ve met people with very limited health literacy,” he says. “I’ve met people who had to choose between buying prescription medications and food for their kids. These outreach activities have enabled me to help patients navigate the hurdles they face in getting care.”