Editorial: Clinics a win-win for patients, UNM students

The University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center has long been considered a crown jewel of our state’s higher education system, and that’s due in large part to the service it provides to its community and the state as a whole.

Take, for example, its work with underserved populations in Albuquerque through several clinics. Best of all, those clinics are being staffed by future physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants and physical therapists.

It’s a win-win.

Various underserved populations like immigrants and the homeless get desperately needed medical services. And UNM students get the experience they need to become competent – and compassionate – health care professionals.

These clinics are a lifeline to those in need, like James Christian, a 45-year-old homeless man with diabetes who has lost the lower part of his right leg, all the toes on his left foot and, recently, his right index finger to amputation.

“My biggest issues are not having the money to buy the right kind of food, and stress,” Christian told a third-year medical student during a recent clinic.

Students provide some care themselves or refer patients to the hospital or follow-up visits at a health clinic. The HSC students are supervised by an attending health care provider. And sometimes they simply provide a much needed ear to listen to people who often have no one to talk to.

“I learn so much here,” 29-year-old Tae-young Nam said. “We are in the classroom the first two years (of medical school). I have never studied so hard. But the clinic reminds me of what I will be doing one day.”

These types of programs are vital to our community and to the Health Sciences Center, and we applaud UNM for pursuing these opportunities for their students and for the community.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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