Student Life

Maria Shelter

Maria Shelter is a homeless shelter in Englewood that houses women and children. The mission of the University of Chicago Maria Shelter Health Clinic is to provide superior health care in a compassionate manner, ever mindful of each patient’s dignity and individuality. To accomplish this mission, volunteers call upon the skills and expertise of all who work together to advance medical innovation, serve the health needs of the community and further the knowledge of those dedicated to caring.

The student-run clinic offers students a chance to talk to these women in a low-pressure one-on-one format, as well as a chance to get involved in the Englewood community through projects like the annual health fair. Volunteers interview patients, take basic vital signs, and present the case to the attending physician. This is a great chance to learn how to "present" informally to attending physicians, who work closely with volunteers.

Contacts: Claire Wild and Ayse Musaogullari.
Faculty Advisor: Andrew Davis, MD, MPH, Department of Medicine

  • Students take histories and perform physical examinations
  • Students practice presenting to attendings
  • Physicians and students update patient charts

"Maria Clinic is unique because we have the privilege of meeting patients where they are, even as they experience extreme vulnerability.  Volunteering at Maria Clinic helps student volunteers see first-hand how the social determinants of health can play a major part in patient health. Because the clinic operates within the shelter, it’s possible for volunteers to build longitudinal relationships with the patients. Furthermore, because the clinic is small, student volunteers have more time to discuss cases with the attending physician (as well as fourth year medical students and residents), creating more time for learning moments." - Desta Lissanu, MS3 

"I see my time at Maria Shelter as an opportunity to teach students how to care for those in need and provide essential healthcare for extremely resilient patients. Despite the losses that some of the patients have experienced, all I feel is hope and joy from everyone around me. This volunteering experience is also a key reminder of why I became a help create a better world." -Sonia Oyola, MD