UCSF Students Drawn to San Francisco's Legacy of Social Justice

Note: San Francisco Health Improvement Partnerships (SF HIP) is supported by CTSI's Community Engagement and Health Policy Program (CE&HP).

By Claire Conway via UCSF.edu

[Excerpt from "Depth of Field: UCSF Students Drawn to San Francisco's Legacy of Social Justice"]

 First-year medical student Colette DeJong, who is enrolled in UCSF’s Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved (PRIME–US), chose UCSF for the same spirit of independence that Seybold so values. PRIME is a five-year track for medical students who are committed to working with underserved communities.

PRIME students hit the ground running: during her second week, DeJong was placed on a Hepatitis B working group under the guidance of a “navigator” from the San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership (SFHip), a consortium of community organizers, government agencies, and UCSF clinical scientists. One of four working groups devoted to chronic illnesses that impact communities in San Francisco, the Hepatitis B group is reaching out to the city’s Asian and Pacific Islander population, which is 100 times more likely to contract Hep B than others. The virus, which can be asymptomatic for years, underdetected, and lethal, is responsible for 80 percent of the country’s liver cancer diagnoses.

“San Francisco has the highest rate of Hep B in the nation,” reports DeJong, “and it’s 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV.”

DeJong is interviewing the major players in the effort to contain the virus, including staff members of the Chinatown Public Health Center; city health workers; UCSF physician and Vietnamese immigrant Tung Nguyen, MD, resident alumnus; and representatives from Kaiser Permanente, which has been very successful in treating its Hep B patients.

“One of our goals is to get the students out of the classroom, which has an evidence-based perspective, and into the community, to expose them to an ‘eminence-based’ perspective,” says Aisha Queen-Johnson, PRIME’s project manager. “They see what it takes to come together at the table and work on policies and effective interventions, in real time.”

Read more at UCSF.edu