Living in a large metroplex, we tend to think that there’s a medical provider in just about every community. Unfortunately, reality speaks a harsher truth. There are gaps in coverage for clinical sites all over the country, and it is often those that need it most that are most affected. TWU is applying its mission to be “committed to transformational learning, discovery, and service in an inclusive environment that embraces diversity” to this issue. TWU has sought and received a $388,000 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Minority Health Research and Education Grant Program to provide much-needed clinical rotation sites to underserved communities.
Assistant Clinical Professor Dr. Jennifer Bogardus is serving as the project coordinator for this effort: “Our plan is to establish 10 new clinical sites in the Rio Grande Valley and West Texas where our DPT [doctor of physical therapy] students can perform their clinical rotations,” according to a TWU press release. “These target areas are considered both underserved and high-minority population areas. We carefully researched areas that have greater than 50% of their population comprised of Latino and/or African American individuals. In addition, we sought out regions that demonstrated lack of healthcare personnel, a decline in the number of insured residents and that possessed issues with healthcare infrastructure, employment and high numbers of chronic disease,” said Bogardus.
Students are jumping at the opportunity to complete TWU’s mission in these areas. “We just announced the program at the end of last week, and we already have several students requesting placement. There is a general sense of excitement to be part of this opportunity,” said Bogardus. Cognizant of the responsibility that comes with this opportunity, Bogardus said, “The faculty at TWU is honored to have been selected by THECB for this opportunity. We are already working hard to be sure that we make the best use of this resource to provide for both our students here at TWU, but most importantly, the patients who we love to serve.”
Bogardus believes that their efforts will provide a foundation for the future that extends beyond the two-year grant window: “We intend to provide continuing education opportunities for the already-wonderful clinicians working in the area. . . It is our intention to utilize this funding to help create and establish strong relationships with the clinics in these areas that will allow us to sustain partnership long after the grant period has ended. . . We also hope that their (students’) experience will encourage them to seek employment post-graduation at some of these clinical sites. This not only helps to add more talented healthcare providers to the Rio Grande Valley but also helps to open job opportunities to our students.”
Students looking for locations to complete their rotations can look forward to the wonderful opportunities this grant will provide, and TWU can take pride in knowing that its faculty and students are continuing redefine what it means to represent TWU.