A student-led effort to help the underserved in Texas

By Jan Jarvis

Marisa Tan and David Preston, third year DO/MPH students

Every year the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research recognizes students who have a desire to integrate public health into their future clinical practices by naming them Paul Ambrose Scholars.

David Preston and Marisa Tan, third year DO/MPH students from UNT Health Science Center, certainly fit the bill.

From the start, each student has shown an interest in helping underserved populations in Texas, said Patricia Connally, D.O., Assistant Professor of Geriatrics. Both are in the dual degree program that is a collaborative partnership between the Rural Scholars Program in the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and the School of Public Health.

“David and Marissa both came to TCOM with strong interests in health disparities. Through their studies, they have been afforded knowledge and opportunities to turn motivation into service,” Dr. Connally said. ”They have worked very hard, and we are so pleased that their efforts are being recognized nationally.”

Preston and Tan are among 40 students from 34 academic health professions institutions selected for the Paul Ambrose Scholars Program, which prepares participants to be leaders in addressing population health challenges at the national and community level.

Scholarships are awarded to students to conduct community-based health education projects. As part of the scholarship, Preston and Tan also attended the Public Health Leadership Symposium, which exposed them to how leaders from around the country are addressing health care challenges.

Preston’s project is focused on addressing key barriers to accessing health care for the thousands of refugees who relocate to Tarrant County annually. Although there are several organizations in Fort Worth that are helping refugee families, there is still a great need for better health care access, he said.

“What I hope to do is to start a program that partners refugee families with health professions students who have a familiarity Fort Worth’s health care system,” Preston said. “As advocates for health care needs, students will be able to assist in short-term obstacles such as appointment attendance, prescription filling, and correspondence, while at the same time teaching long-term skills in traversing the health care system and accessing health care benefits.”

Tan’s area of interest is diabetes prevention in the Rio Grande Valley, where nearly 20 percent of the patients have the chronic disease. She hopes to facilitate a diabetes prevention program to combat obesity, a major risk factor for diabetes.

She applied to the Paul Ambrose Scholar Program because of her interest in health equality, which was inspired by reading stories of trauma, abuse, and hardship in disadvantaged communities.

“It’s always easier to blame the marginalized for their circumstances – as we know that every nation has its scapegoats,” she said. “I’m moved by these stories to consider barriers to health as true obstacles, so that I can work creatively in partnership with the community to overcome them.”

Recent News

Screenshot 2024 06 20 At 3.45.01 pm
  • Our People
|Jun 20, 2024

From sacrifice to success: a journey through physical therapy school

Ancelmo Mojarro came to Fort Worth to study. The Tyler native knew he wanted to be a physical therapist early on his undergraduate days. He embarked on his path to physical therapy a decade ago, inspired by a friend's suggestion amidst his quest to find his calling in the medical field. “I starte...
  • Our People
|Jun 20, 2024

HSC pro bono physical therapy program offers hope

For 70-year-old Beverly Rozanski, the journey to improved health has been long and challenging. Raised in Michigan, Rozanski spent her childhood and early adult years struggling with physical challenges that made even the simplest tasks seem insurmountable. However, her discovery of a pro bono p...
Mills John
  • Our People
|Jun 20, 2024

Team of HSC experts develops national position statement for NCCHC on care for aging patients in correctional facilities

Addressing an overlooked and sometimes neglected patient population, a group of experts from The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth partnered with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to write a “Care for Aging Patients in the Correctional Setting” posit...
Jennifer Fix 2 Purple
  • Education
|Jun 18, 2024

Pharmacy technician shortage driving force behind new, online prep course

A self-paced, online Pharmacy Technician Preparation Course is now being offered through The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth as a way to help combat the shortage of pharmacy technicians at hospitals, health systems and retail pharmacies. Recognized by the Pharmacy Tech...