Kevin Du, a first-year physician assistant student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, has experienced patients at their worst while working in the emergency room at University Health Truman Medical Center.
“I see the impact the social determinants of health have on certain populations,” Du said. “In the emergency room, we see a lot of immigrants and persons of color and that really resonated with me coming from a first-generation family.”
It made such an impact that Du is now part of a unique Area Health Education Centers Scholars program that helps prepare health professions students to care for rural and urban underserved patients in small interprofessional teams.
Throughout the two-year program, students take part in didactic and community activities that focus on areas such as quality improvement and patient-centered care, as well as cultural competency and emerging issues in health care. Interprofessional education events that bring together students from differing health care fields are also part of the curriculum.
Du is taking part in the scholars program in conjunction with his physician assistant studies at the School of Medicine. Much of the coursework for the AHEC program is done individually but participants also work interprofessionally once or twice a year with others throughout the state.
“My biggest reason for doing this program is to become more culturally competent and to be able to recognize any biases I may have so that I can be a more understanding patient care provider in the future,” Du said.
Before starting the physician assistant program at UMKC, Du served as an emergency room technician at Truman Medical Center, now University Health Truman Medical Center, as well as a technician in the cardiovascular ICU at St. Louis Barnes Jewish Hospital and as an EMT/technician with an urgent care center also in St. Louis.
Now, he says his goal is to work in an urban core medical center where he can reach those in need of help.
“I have seen the struggles that my parents went through and how they were treated regarding health care,” Du said. “I truly want to help the underserved population when I graduate from UMKC.”