"Be worthy to serve the suffering."

-William W. Root, MD - Founder, 1902

Medical Student Service Leadership Project Grant

AΩA is committed to preparing future leaders in medicine and health care. Leadership is about making a positive difference and can be developed through education, observation, experience, and by working with leader mentors. Service learning provides excellent opportunities for students to develop as servant leaders. Only one team from each school may be nominated.

 Medical Student Service Leadership Project team from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.  Project Title:  Southside Community Health Advocates: Developing Physician-Community Leaders to Minimize Health Disparities in the South Side of Chicago

Important Dates

Deadline for submission

February 18, 2025

Award announcements

April 25, 2025

2023 Medical Student Service Leadership Project Grant awardees

Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society is committed to preparing future leaders in medicine and health care. In that spirit we are pleased to announce the 2023 Medical Student Service Leadership Project Grant winners.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Title of project: Food as Medicine: A Community-Centered, Industry to Hospital Approach to Bridging the Gap Between Food and Health for Underprivileged Patients

Students: Eliot Haddad, Adeline Chin, August Culbert, Beti Sharew, Eduardo Williams, Kelsey Ouyang, Eno-obong (Blessing) Udoh, Eran Maina

Mentors: Monica Yepes-Rios, MD; Sonal Patil, MD, MSPH; Cory Chevalier, MD; J. Harry Isaacson, MD; Chantel Wilcox

NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Title of project: Implementing Preventative Screenings and Health Maintenance Practices through South Asian Faith-Based Organizations in New York City

Students: Ashish Chakraborty, Nikhil Avadhani, Argha Bandyopadhyay, Hamza Ahmed

Mentor: Joseph Ravenell, MD, MS

University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Title of project: Bearcat Eye Service

Students: Zofia Hetman, Cameron Reinisch, Alec Murphy, Adam Leone, Courtney Linne, Malcolm Wiseman, Samantha Hu, Robert Porter

Mentors: Lisa Kelly, MD, MEd; Megan Rich, MD; Jun Kim, MD; Stephanie Wey, MD

University of Minnesota School of Medicine

Title of project: Indigenous Student Garden

Students: Austin Hoeg, Sierra Charwood

Mentors: Ana Nuñez, MD; Donovan Williams, MD; Jill A. Foster, MD ; Linda Bane Frizzell, PhD, MS; Viviane Leuche, MD; Barbara Porwit, MEd; Kit Breshears, MS, MM

University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences

 Title of project: Honoring the Seventh Generation: A Student Doctor Approach to Leadership and Respect for Indigenous Cultures

Students: Megan Corn, Kendra Roland, Riley Madigan, Ryan Schulte, Lauren Johnson, Allie Stover, Ashlynn Krieger, Aishwarya Sharma, Emilee Ohman, Whitney Carriveau

Mentors: Allison Kelliher, MD; Ciciley Littlewolf, MD (AΩA, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 2021 Resident); Shyleen Hall, MD, MPH; Jeremy Holloway, PhD

The Grant

The grant is a $9000, two-year grant – $5,000 the first year, and $4,000 the second year. The grant will be paid to the sponsoring institution. No indirect costs will be paid.


  • A team of students at a school with an AΩA Chapter or Association. Teams with AΩA members serving as team leaders will be given priority consideration.
  • Proposals with matching institutional or dean’s funds also will be given priority consideration.
  • Only one proposal may be awarded to an institution every three years.
  • Applications must be for new projects with the potential to generate future support from the medical school or other sources, not supplemental funding for existing programs. A new component of an existing program is eligible.
  • All AΩA members in the submission packet must have active (dues) status.


  • A service learning project for an underserved population, e.g., the indigent, immigrants, refugees, homeless, etc., or a service project related to professionalism in a school, hospital, or clinic. Submissions must demonstrate leadership for students and have a curriculum component.
  • A description about how the program, mentor, and service learning experience will teach leadership.
  • A detailed description of the ways in which the project will incorporate leadership development into the curriculum / experience.
  • A detailed description of regular team meetings with the mentor related to leadership, service, and reflection.
  • $9,000, of which $5000 will be paid on announcement of the award, and $4000 will be paid after receipt and approval of the final report.

Dates for application

2/20/2024Online Application from the AΩA Councilor to AΩA
4/26/2024AΩA announces awards
3/31/2025Report due to AΩA with final funding paid after approval of report

Application to the Councilor

The Councilor and their selection committee will choose the proposal judged to be the most promising and with a high probability of completion. The following must be submitted:

  1. The completed checklist (see attached);
  2. A four-page description of the project with a detailed budget written by the student team leader. Details of the role of the students in project preparation, execution, and leadership;
  3. Description of the team and team leaders and leadership components, including ways in which students will have opportunities to develop leadership skills through the curriculum;
  4. Description of AΩA Chapter role in project (if applicable);
  5. Description of the role of the faculty mentor(s)/advisor(s), and leadership curriculum for the students;
  6. A letter of support from the faculty mentor(s) that indicates the mentor’s commitment of time and interest to the project, the students, and leadership development; and
  7. Faculty mentor biosketch(es) (three to four pages).

Application to AΩA

The proposal selected by the Councilor must be submitted using the Submit Application link below and must include, in addition to the above items:

  1. A letter of endorsement from the AΩA Councilor.
  2. A Dean’s endorsement that comments on the student team leader’s achievements and potential, and the suitability of the faculty sponsor for mentoring; and
  3. Commitment of matching funds by the Dean or school.

Questions may be directed to

Questions may be directed to Libby Appel at 720-859-4149 or by email at msslp@alphaomegaalpha.org

Past Recipients

2022 Medical Student Service Leadership Project Grant awardees

Albany Medical College–

Title of Project: Albany Medical College Community Grand Rounds

Student members: Priya Nair, Jamie Harkey, Katherine Goodspeed, Vamshek Srinivasan (AΩA, Albany Medical College, 2022), Aadya Kaushik

Mentor: Andre D. Coates, MD, MA

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine –

Title of Project: Cultivating Physician Leaders through Educational Outreach

Student members: Tice Harkins, Yevgeniy Busarov, Mira Patel, Nayoung Lee, Alexis Nduka, Kusuma Devi Alaparthi, Tiffany Atabansi, David Mix

Mentors: Jacqueline Ghormoz, MSW, CSW; James F. Caggiano, MD; Ashley Shamansky, DO, MPH; Lisa McConlogue

Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Title of Project: LKSOM Students for Zion Cares – Leadership Collective

Student members:  Khyati Somayaji, Orayinka Orafidiya, Jessica Kerstetter, Angie Polanco, Laya Manoj, Victoria Moors, Ozi Osuoha, Komal Gulati, Esha Kadakia, Taylor Landry, Regine Vincent, Hillary Ramirez, Joanly Sanchez, Meredith Brown

Mentors: Cornelius Pitts, PharmD; Kathleen Reeves, MD (AΩA, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, 2009, Faculty)

Loma Linda University School of Medicine

Title of Project: Loma Linda University Pediatric Wellness and Leadership Initiative

Student members: Gideon Harianja (AΩA, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, 2023), Chloe Dominguez (AΩA, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, 2022), Stephanie Kim (AΩA, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, 2022)

Mentors: Morgan A. Green, MD, Joshua D. Chamberlin, MD (AΩA, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, 2012)

Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine – Arizona-

Title of Project: Medical R.E.N.E.W.A.L. Program

Student members: Ewoma Ogbaudu, Funmi Adeleye, Jay Vasilev, Ahmad Shahin, Summer Ghaith, Rohin Singh, Chris Poyorena, Beau Idler, Chikodi Ohaya

Mentors: Devyani Lal, MD (AΩA, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, 2009, Resident), Anikar Chhabra, MD, MS (AΩA, University of Virginia School of Medicine, 2001, Resident), Juliana Kling, MD, MPH (AΩA, University of Arizona College of Medicine, 2010), Augustine Chavez, MD, Marion Kelly

University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

Title of Project: Southside Community Health Advocates: Developing Physician-Community Leaders to Minimize Health Disparities in the South Side of Chicago

Student members: Ifeoma Ikedionwu, Amani Allen, Chibueze Agwu, Destiny Henning, Chinwe Udemgba, David Fenton, Idris Ayantoye, Kofi Acheampong

Mentors: Bryan A. Smith, MD, Fuad Baroody, MD (AΩA, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, 2020, Faculty), Stephen Estime, MD; Sonia Oyola, MD (AΩA, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, 2021, Faculty)

2021 Medical Student Service Leadership Project Grant awardees

Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Title of project: Einstein Community Corps

Students: Rachel Weinstock, Anna Bitners, Bryan Szeglin, April Sosa, Taneisha Sinclair, Brett Bell

Mentors: Alicia Martinez, Heather Archer-Dyer, Dr. Oladimejia Oki, Dr. Nadine Katz

New York Medical College
Title of project: Transformational Education Leadership Program: Combating Systemic Racism and Implicit Bias through Medical Education

Students: Lior Levy, Redab Alnifaidy, Joshua Buckley, Ebtisam Zeynu
Mentors: Dr. Pamela Ludmer, Dr. Mill Etienne, Zuleika Cuevas, Ronald Risucci, Danny Catano, Katharine Yamulla

University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry
Title of project: Health and Incarceration: A Community-Centered Leadership Collaborative

Students: Kavya Bana, Kathleen Carino, Nick Contento, Carly Eiduson, Caroline Farmer, Melissa Holloway, Rachel Johnson, Tessa Oliver, Grace Benitez, Shreya Bhasin, Jay Y. Hwang, Shea Kelly-Buckley, Michelle Liu, Hayley Martin, Katharine Norris, Maryam Omran, Gavin Piester

Mentors: Dr. Diane Morse, Dr. Michael Mendoza, Kristin Doughty, Dr. Natalie Whaley, Matthew Petitte

University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine
Title of project: USF Health Immersive Interprofessional Education for Leadership-based Medical Education and Community Partnership

Students: Joshua Mizels, Lauren Linkowski, Premsai Kumar, Ryan Sawyers, Paige DeBlieux, Madeline Hooper, Weiwei (Mimi) Liu, Charissa Bloom

Mentors: Dr. Deborah DeWaay, Dawn Schocken, Joann Quinn

Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society is committed to preparing future leaders in medicine and health care. We are pleased to announce the 2020 Medical Student Service Leadership Project Grant recipients.

In alphabetical order by school:

Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine

Title of project: Cascade Leadership Program: Leaders Building Leaders

Students: Ryan Mack, Gabriela Fuentes, Tooba Ghous, Yolanda Pham, Taylor Petrusevski, Nicolette Codispoti, Djoni Elkady, Samuel Lubor, David Mata Vaca

Mentors: Dr. Gregory Gruener, Dr. Lena Hatchett, Dr. Aaron Michelfelder, Dr. Trent Reed

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Title of project: First Aid for Severe Trauma Training (FAST-T) Program

Students: Kristin Burnham, Vivek Abraham, Kevin Anderson, Nicholas Krupa, Rachel Watkin, Danielle Touma, Rebecca Martin

Mentors: Dr. Craig Goolsby, Dr. Robert Liotta, Dr. Martin Ottolini

University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine

Title of project: Hawaii Inter-Island Coalition for Primary Care Pathways (HICPCP)

Students: Qian Bian, Clark Caballero, Megan Horita, EunYoung Park

Mentors: Dr. Jill Omori, Dr. Teresa Schiff


The award is a $9000, three-year grant with each winning team’s medical school to receive $5,000 the first year, $3,000 the second year, and $1,000 the third year.


Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine

Title of project: Developing Medical Student Leaders in the Underserved Community

Students: Caitlyn Gallagher, Raed Narvel, Hayley Musial, Lauren Dittman, Greisy Martinez, Edna Johnson

Mentors: Dr. Sarah Stumbar, Dr. Eneida Roldan, Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, Dr. Pedro Greer, Dr. Alan Wells, and Dr. Suzanne Minor

Stanford University School of Medicine

Title of project: Ears 4 Peers Leadership Training Program

Students: Bright Zhou, William Shi, Maria Filsinger-Interrante, Rosyli Reveron-Thornton, Claire Rhee, Kiah Williams, and Sruthi Mantri

Mentors: Dr. Rebecca Smith-Coggins, Dr. Alejandro Martinez, Dr. Bina Patel, Dr. Rebecca Miller-Kulhmann, Dr. Suzann Pershing, and Dr. Nicholas Murray

The award is a $9000, three-year grant with each winning team’s medical school to receive $5,000 the first year, $3,000 the second year, and $1,000 the third year.

Alpha Omega Alpha is committed to preparing future leaders in medicine and health care. Leadership is about making a positive difference, and is learned through education, observation, and experience, and working with leader mentors. Service leadership may develop an excellent opportunity for students to develop as servant leaders. The most effective leaders are well grounded in and committed to positive professional values.

AΩA developed this award to support leadership development for medical students through mentoring, observation, and service learning.

Amount of the award: $5000 for the first year, $3000 for the second year, $1000 for the third year

The winners of this year’s award are:


The Baylor College of Medicine Refugee Health Initiative: Leadership Development Through Service

  • Student leader Geneva White (AΩA, Baylor College of Medicine, 2017)
  • Student leader Grace Gannon
  • Student leader Elizabeth Adams
  • Student leader Abigail Garbarino (AΩA, Baylor College of Medicine, 2017
  • Mentor leader Jill D’Souza, MD (AΩA, Northwestern University, Resident, 2017)
  • Mentor Daniel Chelius, MD (AΩA, Baylor College of Medicine, 2004)
  • Mentor Ellis Arjmand, MD
  • Mentor Ellen Friedman, MD (AΩA, Baylor College of Medicine, Faculty, 2017)
  • Mentor Larry Hollier, MPH (AΩA, Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, 1967)
  • Mentor Jean Raphael, MD
  • Mentor Teri Turner, MD (AΩA, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, 1989)


Building A Leadership Consortium Across Chicagoland Free Clinics

  • Student leader Stephanie Bi
  • Student leader Annie Zhang
  • Student leader Phillip Hsu
  • Mentor Lucas Matern (AΩA, University of Chicago, 2018)
  • Mentor Karen E. Kim, MD (AΩA, University of Chicago, Faculty, 2016)
  • Mentor James Woodruff, MD (AΩA, University of Chicago, Resident, 1996)


Med Educational Consulting Group (Med E.C.G.)

  • Student leader David Portney
  • Student leader Paige VonAchen
  • Student leader Taylor Standiford
  • Student leader Daniel Semaan
  • Student leader Matt Carey
  • Mentor David Fessell, MD
  • Mentor Kate Klein, MD, FACR
  • Mentor Michael Englesbe, MD, FACS (AΩA, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 1997)

Alpha Omega Alpha is committed to preparing future leaders in medicine and health care. Leadership is about making a positive difference, and is learned through education, observation, and experience, and working with leader mentors. Service leadership may develop an excellent opportunity for students to develop as servant leaders. The most effective leaders are well grounded in and committed to positive professional values.

AΩA developed this award to support leadership development for medical students through mentoring, observation, and service learning.

Amount of the award: $5000 for the first year, $3000 for the second year, $1000 for the third year.



The winners of this year’s award are:

click on the title for a summary of each project.

Leadership in Medicine

  • Student leader Keith Kincaid
  • Student leader Stephanie B. Tran (AΩA, Florida State University, 2018)
  • Student leader Devan Patel
  • Student leader Farnoosh Shariati
  • Student member D’andre Williams
  • Student member Ryan Earwood
  • Student member Taylor Maramara
  • Student member Morrisa Taylor
  • Student member Kevin Gil
  • Mentor Leader Christopher P. Mulrooney, MPS PhD
  • Mentor Alma Littles, MD (AΩA, Florida State University, 2016)
  • Mentor Paul McLeod, MD (AΩA, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 1960)
  • Mentor Christienne Alexander, MD
  • Mentor Jonathan Appelbaum, MD
  • Mentor Leslie Beitsch, MD JD
  • Mentor Daniel Van Durme, MD MPH
  • Mentor Suzanne Bush, MD (AΩA, Florida State University, 2011)
  • Laura Osteen, PhD


Pursuing Leadership in Street Medicine: Developing Medical Student Innovators Through UB HEALS


  • Student leader Moudi Hubeishy
  • Student member Nicole Dodge
  • Student Member Lindsay Kosinski (AΩA, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo, 2016)
  • Student member Bryan Fregoso
  • Student member Timothy Hansen
  • Student member Mattie Rosi-Schumacher
  • Student member Daniil Khaitov
  • Student member Amanda Sherman
  • Student member Matthew McGuire
  • Student member Jillian Smith
  • Student member Emily Benton
  • Student member Natasha Borrero
  • Student member Laura Reed
  • Student member Connor Arquette
  • Student member Joseph Iluore
  • Student member Dylan Constantino
  • Mentor leader David Milling, MD
  • Mentor Nancy Nielson, MD PhD
  • Mentor Gale Burstein, MD MPH (AΩA, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo, 1990)
  • Mentor Alan Lesse, MD (AΩA, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo, 2015)
  • Mentor Phillip Glick, MD MBA
  • Mentor Daniel Sheehan, MD PhD
  • Mentor Christian DeFazio, MD


Leadership in Medicine

Contextual History and Purpose

The Florida State University College of Medicine (FSUCOM) is dedicated to developing exemplary physician-leaders who are equipped with the skillset necessary to effectively address modern-day health care issues. Through a systems-based integrated curriculum with immediate patient exposure, students receive comprehensive clinical education in Tallahassee during the first two years, including many opportunities for service leadership. During the third and fourth years, students are placed in community-based rotations based at one of six regional campuses throughout Florida where they work directly with physicians, many of whom are leaders in their communities. In creating this Leadership in Medicine program, we aim to advance this culture of leadership at FSUCOM by providing students with an unprecedented, formalized leadership development program.

To provide context, students from our school applied unsuccessfully for this grant last year. They proposed the development of a longitudinal family care program that incorporated an interprofessional approach. Ultimately, this proposal was unsuccessful as it lacked a significant leadership component. This feedback allowed us to take a step back and identify the need for a leadership program at FSUCOM. After conducting a survey that included responses from the majority of students at FSUCOM’s main campus, 81% of students are interested in a formalized leadership training program and 62% indicated that they have leadership goals that extend beyond patient care. To directly address this need, our team has developed the Leadership in Medicine (LIM) program.

The purpose of LIM is to provide purposeful and immersive leadership development opportunities for students interested in careers that transcend clinical medicine. As a physician’s responsibility continues to evolve in a dynamic health care climate, this program aims to prepare students for the inevitable leadership roles they will have in their future careers. This goal will be accomplished by nurturing a culture of purpose-driven medical students, equipping them with fundamental leadership competencies, and exposing them to a variety of leadership domains in medicine. Further, the unique mission, location, and relationships at FSUCOM will provide an unprecedented level of training in health leadership domains for medical students.

Program Description – Alumni Discussion Series

During the first year (M1) of medical school, students will be exposed to core leadership competencies and will receive first-hand experience in various domains of leadership in medicine. Since FSUCOM begins classes in the summer, we will begin the program with an alumni discussion series during the M1 summer. This is a series of three events in which we will bring in exemplary recent graduates. These alumni will be individuals who not only excelled academically, but also made significant extracurricular achievements while in medical school. At each of these meetings, a faculty member will facilitate a discussion regarding topics such as finding multiple mentors and overcoming hardship. The aim of these discussions will be to inspire students to pursue their passions and to ensure that they do not lose sight of their long- term goals while in the midst of medical school. Since many of our students are interested in career leadership roles, we strongly believe LIM will provide an avenue for our students 1) to cultivate the passions they brought to medical school, 2) to emphasize the bigger picture of their academic journey, and 3) to find support through a formalized program as they pursue their career aspirations and goals.

Core Competency Training

In the M1 Fall, students will learn about core leadership competencies. In collaboration with The Center for Leadership and Social Change on FSU’s campus, we will host three workshops that will equip students with fundamental leadership skills. Topics for these workshops include defining leadership and leadership in medicine, discussing the importance of communication for strong leadership, understanding individual leadership strategies, and preparing for medical writing and public speaking opportunities. Both the Core Competency Training and Alumni Discussion Series are open to all students. Due to limited resources, however, a selection process at the end of M1 Fall will identify 12 students to continue in LIM.

Specialized Leadership Training

Next, the selected students will have the opportunity to engage in specialized leadership training during the M1 Spring. This semester will begin with a round-table discussion led by role model physicians in several domains of leadership in medicine. These domains include academic medicine, executive medicine, community medicine, and public health/policy. This event will be an engaging opportunity for students to learn about the day-to-day responsibilities of individuals in different areas of medicine. Following this meeting, each student will be assigned a mentor in one of the leadership domains, with whom the student will work for the reminder of the semester (e.g. on a weekly basis). By participating in this preceptorship experience, the student will learn about leadership in medicine in the context of one of the aforementioned domains. Further, we will encourage students to identify a question, problem, or area of improvement during their preceptorship experience. The identification of this question or problem will be the basis of the capstone project as detailed below.

Capstone Project

To round out the first two years of LIM, students will complete a capstone project based on their experience in the specialized leadership training. As there are no curricular requirements during the summer between M1 and M2, students may elect to use this time to begin their project and continue into the M2 Fall semester if necessary. Others may elect to complete the entire project during the M2 Fall semester. The purpose of this capstone project will be to address the question, problem, or area of improvement they identified during their preceptorship experience. Students will complete their capstone project under the supervision and mentorship of a faculty mentor. Findings and results of their project will be presented at an open-invitation FSUCOM Grand Rounds session at the end of the M2 Fall semester. No formal activities have been designed for the M2 Spring semester as students will be preparing for USMLE Step 1 that students take in late March – early April.

Professional Experience

The final component of the LIM program is an immersive, professional experience in each of the leadership in medicine domains. The FSUCOM curriculum has built-in elective time during the M3 and M4 years. All students, including those not in the 12-student cohort, may take advantage of this elective time to complete four-week rotations in one of the four leadership domains. Students will play an active role in the daily responsibilities of the preceptor with whom they are working. For example, an academic medicine rotation may include facilitating small group discussions for preclinical students.

Recognition of Achievement

The cohort of 12 students who successfully complete all components of the program will be eligible for an official “Leadership in Medicine” certificate that will serve as a special distinction on their academic transcript and diploma. We are working with the COM’s chief academic officer, to establish this formal certificate program. Those who complete the program will also be recognized at their class awards ceremony prior to graduation. Furthermore, participants will be given the opportunity to write meaningful reflections throughout the program. During the M4 year, those students who successfully complete all components of the program will be asked to write a final reflection piece on their experience and growth through the program. This reflection piece will be included in one of FSUCOM’s publishing outlets, the HEAL magazine (Humanism Evolving through Arts and Literature).

Pursuing Leadership in Street Medicine: Developing Medical Student Innovators Through UB HEALS


To demonstrate a focus on advancing the UB HEALS Program through the development of a Leadership Track component to complement the acquisition of a medical van.

UB HEALS Mission Statement:

UB HEALS (Homeless health, Education, Awareness, and Leadership in Street medicine) aims to be a sustainable SUNY at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (JSMBS) Street Medicine outreach initiative. The specific aims are: (1) to reintegrate the homeless population into the healthcare system of the Greater Buffalo area by establishing trusting relationships with the UB HEALS medical team and (2) to influence medical education at JSMBS through leadership education and experience. Founded in January 2016, UB HEALS aims to address the unique medical and psychosocial needs of the homeless population and provide a valuable educational leadership experience for medical students, residents, and faculty. Medical students, residents, and faculty from the JSMBS participate in direct street outreach to the homeless population and work together to bridge access, trust, and utilization gaps between the homeless and the medical community. By building a relationship between medical students and a severely underserved population, UB HEALS aims to graduate future physicians motivated to join the ranks of service-oriented healthcare professionals locally and nationwide.


The complexity of the homeless population provides a unique lens through which the flaws and effectiveness of our healthcare system can be assessed. The services currently available to homeless individuals in the Buffalo area, while inclusive of several social domains, do not sufficiently address healthcare concerns. The recent Annual Report on the State of Homelessness in the Erie-Niagara Metropolitan Area documented 6,126 individuals who experienced homelessness in Erie County between 2013 and 2014. In Erie County, 43% of the homeless population has one or more disabling condition while 97% have a mental health problem. Further, current research now indicates that homelessness is an independent risk factor for mortality. Acknowledgment of the deficiencies in the current healthcare system and an honest attempt to bridge the gap can create the basis for an effective connection based on mutual respect. This common ground may serve to empower homeless individuals towards the long- term improvement of their health through the utilization of a multitude of healthcare providers.

UB HEALS Street Medicine Outreach Rounds

UB HEALS began street medicine outreach rounds in March of 2016 and has operated with consistency since that date. The street outreach rounds are held three times a week in the evenings. The team is composed of two social workers from a homeless outreach community center (referred to as our community partner), two UB HEALS leaders (acting as street round facilitators), two medical student volunteers, and one to two UB faculty physicians or residents.

The group begins at a downtown bus station and travels on foot or, when available, by our community partner’s vehicle to various known areas of homeless residence to provide medical care, encourage health and wellness, and build a relationship with the homeless individuals that are met.

Interactions commonly begin with casual conversation and sharing stories. The team then moves towards a discussion of the individual’s health and current needs, followed by a discussion of their housing status and social services. The team members carry stethoscopes and medical supplies along with backpacks filled with food, water, and clothing to hand out. All medical care is administered under physician supervision in a HIPAA compliant fashion.

A private UB HEALS computer will ensure that patient information is confidentially stored in a HIPAA compliant manner. Recording and logging patient information into a uniform EMR will allow the team to ensure a standard of care and continuity between street rounds. Tracking patient information and conducting data surveys will be crucial to the Medical Care Initiatives and Medical Record Review leadership track, described below.

Current Leadership and Mentorship

The UB HEALS program has strong support from the JSMBS faculty. The program’s primary mentor, Dr. David Milling, has worked with the founding leaders of the UB HEALS team since its inception, regularly accompanying the team on street rounds and offering instruction in service learning and medicine. Under the guidance of Dr. Milling, UB HEALS Leaders facilitate post-round reflections with the medical students and faculty to debrief on the work and experiences of the night.

To broaden the scope of our mentorship and understand the use of the Emergency Department (ED) by the homeless, we recruited Emergency Medicine (EM) Program Director, Dr. Christian DeFazio. Students are now paired directly with EM faculty and residents on street rounds. Under this mentorship, students will build their clinical examination skills and medical proficiency. By counseling homeless patients on opportunities for healthcare in a Federally Qualified Health Center that accepts referrals from the UB HEALS program, student leaders address some of the underlying factors contributing to ED overcrowding and work towards the development of a more sustainable method of meeting their healthcare needs.


Our team has seen the astounding progress and development that is possible when students and physicians unite in an exploration of leadership, and thus far we have benefited from great mentorship. The team has come to recognize that the next stage in the expansion of our vision in street medicine necessitates the use of a medical van. This is a responsibility we have invested great measures towards to ensure its success. As such, we have set out to support our goals with a corresponding growth in mentorship and leadership. To this aim, we have developed a new component to UB HEALS, a structured leadership track in which action, team- building, didactic lectures, and reflections will foster skills relevant and effective in a wide variety of contexts – our program, university, community, professional associations, and public policy/advocacy. The budget demonstrated below, reflects our described intentions.