Med students bringing hope through service

UNT Health med students practice skills in free clinic for homeless

After nearly a decade of homework, tests, and overwhelming debt, medical students often ask themselves -- is it really worth it?

“There’s some days I’d rather be watching Netflix,” said second year medical student Derek Christensen.

But a few months ago, when the students at the UNT Health Science Center were presented with a unique opportunity, they got their answer.

“Yeah, it’s worth it,” Christensen said. “It really wasn’t a question of are we going to do it. It was, we said yes, now what?”

Even though most of these students won't be doctors for another couple of years, they get the chance to already see patients. Once a month, they set up a clinic downtown and cater to their exclusive clientele: Fort Worth's homeless.

They’re members of the Catholic Medical Association of Students and since April, the future doctors have teamed up with a local non-profit to offer basic medical services.

Alan Jack has been homeless since 2011. He’s recently had a series of small heart attacks, but says these students provide more than just medical attention.

“It makes me feel like there’s someone that cares,” he said. “Someone that would volunteer their time to come out and interact with people like us which, quite frankly, a lot of society would rather discard.”

“It means a lot, it really does,” added Frank Newton, who has been homeless for the past year.

“It’s so worth it and makes us excited for what we’re going to do for the rest of our lives,” second year med student Alyssa Wilson said.

Willie Rankin, who works for the non-profit that hosts the clinic, says this kind of outreach can be infectious.

“Their sacrifice doing it now shows a lot about the potential of what can become later and how this can multiply,” he said.

“If we can be that light in the darkness to someone’s week, or someone’s month, or someone’s year, I think it’s worth it,” Christensen said.

And that’s why as long as homelessness exists, they’ll continue working toward a cure.

For information on the Catholic Medical Association of Students or to find ways to help, please email Derek Christensen at dac0288@my.unthsc.edu.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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