Family medicine physicians Shailendra Prasad, MD, and Renée Crichlow, MD, are hard at work addressing the complexity of issues underserved communities face when it comes to healthcare, and believe that clinical care is one of many ways to tackle these concerns.
Family medicine physicians Shailendra Prasad, MD, and Renée Crichlow, MD, professors in the University of Minnesota Medical School Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, are hard at work to address the complexity of issues underserved communities face when it comes to healthcare, and believe that clinical care is one of many ways to tackle these concerns. Together, they train medical residents for future practice through the department’s North Memorial Family Residency Program and run community-based programs like CHAT (Community Health and Advocacy Talks) and the Ladder outside of clinical settings.
“Sometimes when you look at only clinical medicine you stop looking at other factors that can seem abstract or too complicated, like nutrition, social situations and other social determinants of health,” Prasad explains. “We want to help students and young physicians see the limitations of approaching issues from just a clinical medicine lens while highlighting areas that need further exploration.”
While CHAT draws a mix of health professionals, students and community members for talks on everything from new models of pregnancy care and the importance of early childhood education to health care for the homeless and new immigrants, the Ladder is a program for youth from underserved communities interested in health careers that equips them with the skills and mentorship they need to succeed.
“I like to call it a community of purpose,” says Crichlow, who decided to launch the successful program after noticing how few medical students and residents were coming out of North Minneapolis. “Our motto is ‘Lift as you climb, build as you grow.’” she adds, explaining how the Ladder uses a mentorship approach because research shows that students learn the most about achievement in school from people who are within two or three years of their grade level.
Both groups meet monthly at the University of Minnesota’s Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) in North Minneapolis. “Being able to meet at the same location every month has provided an anchor for students and allowed us to stay lean and flexible,” Crichlow says. Prasad adds that UROC’s location has also helped draw in a wider audience. The program’s success over the last five years is now resulting in it being rolled out on a national level as a nonprofit organization. “We hung in there and we’re ready to become a long-term organization.”