Health professional students called to address social justice Health and Social Justice Scholars will learn methods for improving health equity in disadvantaged communities

    Health Sciences Center students engaged in community service
    Health Sciences Center students engaged in community service

    Health-care professionals often are aware of larger social issues facing their patients in disadvantaged communities but feel powerless as individual practitioners to change these health disparities. The University of Louisville’s new Health and Social Justice Scholars Program is accepting applicants who will be trained to work with other professionals in communities to bring about changes to benefit underserved and disadvantaged populations.

    Students in the UofL schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and Information Sciences who are dedicated to social justice are encouraged to apply for the program, where they will learn techniques for working interprofessionally and with community members to improve the overall health of the populations through community engagement and scholarly activities. The students will work with faculty mentors to combat issues such as youth violence, public water safety and depression in adolescents in West Louisville and other disadvantaged communities.

    “As a pediatrician, I know that a physician can’t do it alone,” said V. Faye Jones, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.P.H., assistant vice president for health affairs – diversity initiatives at UofL. “You have to have different perspectives and different skills to move that needle. We cannot work in silos; we have to work as a team to accomplish the goal of health equity.”

    One second-year student from each of the four schools in the UofL Health Sciences Center will be selected for the first cohort of scholars for the 2016-2017 academic year. The Health and Social Justice Scholars will conduct interprofessional, community-based research along with a faculty mentor, participate in community service projects and attend monthly discussions. In addition, the scholars will receive annual financial support of $10,000 toward their education programs. Scholars are expected to continue in the program for three years.

    “We want students who are dedicated to community engagement and who are passionate about making a difference,” said Jones, who oversees the program. “Eventually, these professionals will be leaders in advocating for policy changes to improve the overall health of the community.”

    Applicants for the program must be entering their second year of a doctoral program in the school of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing or Public Health and Information Sciences (Au.D., D.M.D., D.N.P., M.D. or Ph.D). They will be required to submit an essay describing a health concern in the community with a proposed path for improvement, a summary of their research experience, letters of recommendation and transcripts.

    Applications will be accepted through May 31. For additional information and to apply, visit the Health and Social Justice Scholars web page, or contact the UofL Health Sciences Center Office of Diversity and Inclusion at 502-852-7159 or
    About the UofL HSC Office of Diversity and Inclusion

    The UofL Health Sciences Center Office of Diversity and Inclusion welcomes and embraces the community of students, faculty and staff. The office seeks to encourage and foster all constituents’ growth and development to allow for everyone to be successful at UofL. By augmenting a culture and climate that demonstrate a belief that diversity and inclusion add value to intellectual development, academic enrichment, patient care, research and community engagement, the office intends to place HSC at the forefront of opportunity and innovation. Its mission is to conceptualize, cultivate and coordinate partnerships across the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health and Information Sciences by building organizational capacity and expanding leadership competency for HSC diversity and inclusion efforts. The office aspires to be a model for innovation for health equity driven by excellence in education, community outreach and research.

    Betty Coffman
    Betty Coffman is a Communications Coordinator focused on research and innovation at UofL. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing.