Congratulations to Aamir Hussain, MS2, Alan Hutchison, MSTP, Phillip Hsu, MSTP, and Victoria Wang, MS2, who were honored with University of Chicago Student Leader Awards this spring. These annual awards are given out by the Center for Leadership and Involvement, recognizing students across schools and divisions for their contributions to campus life and the surrounding community. Out of the 11 total awards given for accomplishments in areas like campus life and leadership or volunteer service, medical students are eligible for six; most recently, our graduate Kunmi Sobowale, MD’15 received the Humanitarian Award.
Aamir received the Bridge Builder Award, which honors students who have created connections between different student groups, divisions, or people, to the benefit of creating positive communication about and exploration of culture on campus. In creating and leading the Spirituality in Medicine (SAM) student group, Aamir has organized discussions about faith and health with medical students, undergraduates, and Divinity School students on a variety of diverse topics such as church-based diabetes interventions, hospital chaplaincy, and end-of-life care. He has also engaged all manner of healthcare professionals, from physicians to pharmacists to researchers. In this way, he has built an open dialogue about religion and spiritual practice for a variety of healthcare professionals and University of Chicago students.
Alan is this year’s recipient of the Jane Morton and Henry C. Murphy Award, which recognizes three non-graduating students who “have made exceptional and unique contributions to the University community.” During his first year of medical school, Alan learned of the Healthcare Equality Index of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) through the first-year course, “Health Care Disparities”. When he realized that our own medical center scored only one point out of four on the Index—the four criteria being patient non-discrimination policies, visitation policies, employment non-discrimination policies, and training in LGBT patient-centered care—Alan immediately reached out to UCM President Sharon O’Keefe to discuss how UCM could do better by its LGBT patients and staff.
In 2015, the University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) was recognized as a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality by the HRC. This incredible honor for our institution is all the more remarkable given the poor rating we received in 2011. It is not an understatement to say that our achievements in this area and the narrowing of our disparities in care for the LGBT community are a direct result of Alan’s activism and attention. His work with Sharon O’Keefe and James Williams, Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity at UCM, helped spur our progress and kept UCM on task. Our journey to becoming a leader in LGBT healthcare equality would have started much later, and would not have gathered the urgency it deserved, without his focus and diplomacy.
Phil and Victoria won the President's Volunteer Service Awards this year. When Phil and Victoria matriculated at Pritzker, our students had the opportunity to volunteer at four free clinics in underserved areas around the South Side of Chicago. They noticed, however, that none of these clinics served Chicago’s large and growing Asian American population. The close-by neighborhood of Bridgeport is home to Chicago’s largest Chinese immigrant population, and that population has a disproportionately high uninsured status. The need to address disparities in healthcare for Asian immigrants in Bridgeport is pressing: of the 22% of uninsured residents in the community area, the largest proportion (28%) is of Asian descent. Bridgeport also has a significantly lower number of healthcare providers per capita than Chicago as a whole.
Noting that the University of Chicago Medicine did not yet have any programming or outreach for these Asian American immigrants, Phil and Victoria set out to create a clinic in Bridgeport. In the span of less than a year, the students had recruited faculty supervisors, conducted needs assessments in the community, partnered with a local church, recruited classmate volunteers, collaborated with two nearby federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), and finally opened the Bridgeport Free Clinic (BFC). It is open on Monday evenings to accommodate the large number of restaurant workers in Bridgeport, who are expected to work the other six days of the week. Interpretive services in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Spanish are available for all patients. BFC is staffed by University of Chicago physicians and medical student volunteers who help enroll patients in insurance plans through navigators for the Affordable Care Act and refer patients to two nearby FQHCs for comprehensive primary and specialty care services.
Congratulations to Aamir, Alan, Phil, and Victoria, who are all very deserving of their recognition as Student Leaders at the University of Chicago.