Students on Serving The Underserved; Week 1

by Aubrey Flowers, UTHSC College of Medicine, M1

Though I was unable to attend the first course session, I’m thankful for the opportunity to
express my views on the first topic “Why Are We Here,” and the importance of this course,
both for our profession and personally for the development of my own career goals. In
response to the importance of this course generally for our profession, I think working with
underserved communities is actually fundamental to the values of the medical profession, and
that it is difficult to fully and responsibly practice medicine without grappling with this topic.
Our commitment as physicians is to promote health and do our best to alleviate the suffering of
the sick, and the poor and underserved are disproportionately sick. With that in mind, I think
it’s also difficult as a medical student to undertake a thoughtful exploration of this topic in the
context of our current education. As a first year student, we’ve spent countless hours
memorizing esoteric biochemical pathways. I know I don’t yet have the perspective to know
whether we’ll use this information and how much is actually important but doesn’t seem so
now, but I know for a fact that understanding how to work with the underserved and the huge
segment of our population they represent is undeniably critical to our ability as physicians to
support healthy communities, and yet this is entirely left out of our established curriculum. So I
think this course is vital in bridging that gap and promoting the importance of this topic in
overall medical education.

From a personal and professional standpoint, I’m drawn to this course because it gives me an
opportunity to pursue one of my career goals of improving health and healthcare delivery for
underserved communities. I think this will be a great chance to explore effective, ethical ways
of doing so by learning from community leaders engaged in this work. My interest in this career
comes primarily from my experience working and interning at Church Health, an affordable
health organization for the working uninsured here in town. My time there has given me the
chance to see the difference dedicated doctors can make in the lives of the underserved, and I
look forward to continuing to learn the best ways of doing so through this course.