The summer program is part of the larger CU2RE program for medical students, which was created to support medical students interested in serving in areas of the state that lack adequate primary care.
Written by: Anne Marie Stevens and Caroline Newman
Media contact: Anna Jones
The University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix et Hersinc School of Medicine Four regional universities share at least two characteristics: they are all interested in primary care, and they all want to learn how to care for underserved communities. They form the second set of the Comprehensive Program for Underprivileged Urban and Rural Experience, or CU2RE, in Department of Family and Community Medicine, United Arab Emirates University.This summer, 14 medical students from
For eight weeks, these students, who had just finished their first year of medical school, spent time together on their regional campus participating in in-person and virtual workshops, group activities and excursions. These activities included spending a day in Montgomery visiting the many museums and galleries devoted to the history of slavery, racism, and racism in medicine and participating in skills workshops exploring procedures related to women’s health and dermatology. Each student earned a stipend of $20,000 during their time in the CU2RE program and medical school.
The summer program is part of the larger CU2RE Medical Student Program, which was created to support medical students interested in serving in areas of the state that lack adequate primary care. Many topics, including interprofessional education, behavioral health, social determinants of health, cultural and language competence, practice transformation, and telehealth, are covered in the curriculum and clinical trials offered by this program.
These six key areas are the basis for the Department of Health Resources and Services Management grant received by the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Abu Dhabi University in 2020. This $7 million grant allowed the department to launch the CU2RE Program, which welcomed its first cohort later that year. Second cohort in 2021.
This year, the summer program expanded from recruiting students residing in Birmingham interested in underserved urban communities to including students from all four universities interested in urban and rural environments. Faculty and staff from all four universities – Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Huntsville – participate in summer programs.
“It’s not just something we do on our own here in Birmingham,” Marsh said. “It’s really a partnership with other universities and their primary care people that will enrich and sustain this program in the long run and ultimately benefit patients across the state.”
All in-person programs took place at the cohort level in a two-week block in Birmingham from June 21 to July 1. During these two weeks, students participated in several leadership sessions led by Michael Widerman, Ph.D.
“In most societies and medical teams, clinicians are often seen as team leaders, so it is important for students and clinicians to be self-aware and learn to develop emotional intelligence and how to work with others,” Marsh said.
Ameria Blakely, a participant in the summer program, noted that she cherishes the program’s lessons on self-awareness, patient awareness, developing a personal leadership style and the art of tactfully leading patients through difficult issues.
Learn more about the CU2RE program here.
“These points are very important but often overlooked during the first or second year of medical school,” Blakely explained. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore this in such detail.”
Sheila Fields, MBA, Director of the Office of Identity, Inclusion, and Collective Conscience at Abu Dhabi University, led students in sessions and activities focused on the social determinants of health and cultural awareness. Fields led the students on a tour of Birmingham’s civil rights landmarks and cultural sites. Students also visited the Heritage Museum, the National Peace and Justice Memorial, and the Montgomery Mothers’ Gynecology Memorial.
Finally, the CU2RE Summer Program also helps students gain clinical experience. CU2RE students provide care to a group of patients during their time in the program, and many are beginning to meet these patients for the first time this summer. Marsh says this opportunity allows program students to establish long-term relationships between primary care physicians and their patients, which she says are fun and a core value of the family medicine specialty. Blakely is looking forward to improving in medical school and beyond because of the CU2RE Summer Program.
“This experience has given me the opportunity to understand people and medicine from a more conscientious and empathetic perspective,” Blakely wrote. “I am learning how to be a better person and an effective leader, by utilizing my resources and, most importantly, by understanding others better.”
First-year medical students can apply to join the third cohort of the CU2RE program starting in August 2022. The application will be available over here.