UT Southwestern students support underserved communities

With the rapid growth of the DFW Metroplex comes an increased need for health care. UT Southwestern Medical School offers an eye-opening elective that places students in the community to serve the underserved.


[Shawna] We have one of the most diverse communities right here in the country.

[Announcer] The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Population, more than 7.5 million. With the boom and growth comes a profound need for healthcare.

We connect our students to a couple of different places. We have them go to various experiences where patients might be living to understand that better.

[Woman] Plans if you're a transgender woman ...

[Announcer] This unique elective exposes students at UT Southwestern Medical Center to underserved communities so they learn how to meet those needs.

My endeavor is to give them the focus of what are the social determinants of health that really have an effect on the things that we ask patients to do that sometimes they can't, or how they get to where they are when they appear at our doors in the clinic.

I think the unique part about it is that it provides us a snapshot into the lives of multiple different diverse communities that are underserved in our population.

[Announcer] Ahneesh Mohanty and his classmates spend time with families in impoverished neighborhoods like so-called food deserts where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited.

The elective is very eye-opening.

[Announcer] They visit inmates to learn about correctional health, meet with low-income mothers, and shadow physicians at HIV clinics.

[Shawna] They come back and they present that to the class. It's startling what they learn in just that experience.

I think having the opportunity to sort of explore that through an elective where it's really kind of conversational, I think is really useful.

[Announcer] A conversation ...

It leads to changes.

[Announcer] Leslie McMurray is eager to have.

[Leslie] Hopefully it gives them confidence more than anything else, and has confidence to treat someone who's transgender.

McMurray, a transgender woman, spends time advocating healthcare for the DFW LGBTQ community.

So, even if a doctor disagrees with treating that person, if you treat them anyway, then you keep them in care, and you can monitor their health, and you can make sure that you have informed consent.

[Announcer] Now serving as a guest speaker in the class, Leslie hopes to give students a personal interaction into what people like her endure.

When they do these presentations on underserved populations, and they come back with the results and they're not always positive, I know that they're dedicated to changing that and it just takes knowledge and education to keep pushing that along.

[Nico] There's always a lesson to be learned. We just have to be willing to listen to it and understand it, and really be able to put ourselves in their shoes.

[Announcer] Lessons in caring for the community that are giving these students renewed purpose.