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Stanford pre-health program students help day laborers in Oakland

During the 2015-16 school year, a trio of college students and recent graduates in the Stanford Leadership Education for Aspiring Physicians (LEAP) program were asked by an Oakland organization that works with day laborers and immigrants for help gathering additional information about their clients.

So the LEAP students — Gardenia Casillas, a student University of California, Berkeley Extension, and California State University, East Bay students Jessica DeAnda and Estefan Zamarripa — developed a survey they used during interviews with 62 day laborers involved with Street Level Health, an Oakland non-profit that works to improve the health of the East Bay's most vulnerable populations.

The LEAP program brings together college students interested in health careers from the greater San Francisco Bay Area to develop networking skills and to pursue a final project that addresses a community health challenge. The group meets twice monthly during the academic year on Saturdays.

For this project, the students' questions revealed additional information about the day workers' experiences with childhood trauma, working conditions and abuse and their concerns about immigration status.

Impressed with the students' work, Street Level Health requested that LEAP students return the next year. Two students from the 2016-17 cohort, Cal State East Bay graduates Yesenia Salazar and Jocelyn Gonzalez, took up the challenge. They developed a survey targeting the broader Street Level Health patient population to examine the utilization of mental health services in low to no-income immigrant adults in Oakland. That data, they hope, will help Street Level Health with patient outreach and education to better manage mental health.

In addition to the survey, the students made a legislative visit to Alameda County Board Supervisor Wilma Chan to discuss investment in safety-net clinics for insured residents, attended an Oakland City Council meeting focused on immigrant health, developed a brochure in Spanish and English, and initiated a 5-week seminar focused on stress reduction and wellness facilitated by a mental health consultant.

Salazar and Gonzalez recently presented the findings from their efforts at a community forum.

If Bay Area residents are interested in helping, they're welcome to join in the effort. Jae Maldonado, executive director of Street Level Health, encouraged pre-health students to connect with his and other local safety-net clinics if they want to learn about the unique challenges of vulnerable populations in the Bay area and the non-profit organizations that serve them.

Previously: Pilot project will encourage toothbrushing in school

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