PRIME-US AT UCSF: Fostering Community Engagement for More Equitable Healthcare Aisha Queen-Johnson, MSW, PRIME-US Administrative Director

"Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best of leaders, when the work is done, the task is accomplished, The people will say, 'We have done this ourselves." -Lao Tzu

Collectively, the work we do in medical education impacts our extended UCSF family and has the potential to serve our community more broadly. This commitment is resoundingly exemplified in the work and achievements of Aisha Queen-Johnson, Administrative Director of the Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved (PRIME)-US.

After almost 10 years in this role, Queen-Johnson has been instrumental in developing the curriculum for PRIME, and creating unique service-learning opportunities for medical students. She liaises with community stakeholders working on local health initiatives in San Francisco, and develops curriculum to engage medical students in those efforts.

PRIME-US—a five-year track at the UCSF School of Medicine and the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program for students working with urban underserved communities—enrolls 15 trainees annually. Since the program’s inception 11 years ago, students have completed a range of community engagement projects in areas such as improving access to primary care services, increasing awareness of the effects of being undocumented on health and healthcare access, and engaging youth in health topics prevalent in their communities (such as violence prevention, environmental health, mental health, and food insecurity).

A native San Franciscan, Queen-Johnson previously worked in the non-profit sector providing services to children, youth, and families. In these settings, she saw and experienced first-hand the need for targeted training on how to engage the community in a respectful and mutually beneficial manner.

“Transitioning to UCSF and working in community engagement in the School of Medicine allowed me to engage community organizations ‘upstream’ and work in collaborations addressing health disparities in San Francisco,” says Queen-Johnson. “PRIME specifically has been an incredible opportunity to help me develop curricula around equitable community health in the city’s vulnerable populations. Our students are actively and reflectively learning about health policy and advocacy, and offering direct care or services in real time. PRIME catalyzes students who are keen to explore their passion for health equity and their drive to affect change in health policy and health outcomes.”

She recently expanded her PRIME role and started facilitating service-learning opportunities for the School of Medicine and across campus. "I am excited to bring my perspective and experiences in providing community based learning opportunities to the broader UCSF community. Helping healthcare providers engage the community has been a main motivating factor in doing this work," says Queen-Johnson.

This year, Queen-Johnson co-facilitated a partnership with the San Francisco YMCA, in which 150 medical students (coached by 30 mentors) educated children and teens on the health implications of sugary beverages.

“My PRIME class, PRIME faculty, and staff are extraordinarily compassionate people who devote much of their limited free time to the advancement of others,” says medical student Adali Martinez. “PRIME students are amazing: many have been leading national movements, protests, rallies, and legislative visits. They've been serving as mentors for at-risk youth, they've been creating partnerships with community organizations. And they've been making great strides within the UCSF medical education community to advance diversity and equity.” Martinez is completing her final year of the PRIME program, and did community engagement work with the organization Mission Girls, an after-school program for girls in grades 3-8 in San Francisco’s mission district.

"Aisha guides all of us toward a more just and equitable world," says PRIME Director Leigh Kimberg, MD. "She is a leader in fostering community engagement through university-community partnerships and service-learning curriculum, and in the recruitment, support, and mentorship of diverse health professions students."

This past year alone, UCSF medical student achievements and awards illustrate the world-class training and mentoring that PRIME-US provides, especially for students passionate to lead change and advocate for more equitable healthcare and health delivery. Here is a snapshot of PRIME-educated students’ achievements:

• Colette DeJong (MD 2017) was awarded a 2017 Deans Prize in Clinical and Translational Research. Her project on the cost of brand name versus generic drugs assessed prescribing patterns among physicians. The research was presented in an editorial she co-authored that was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Colette is completing residency training in internal medicine at UCSF.

• Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn received a 2017 U.S. Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Award in recognition of his dedication and efforts advocating for immigrants’ rights and health equity for under-resourced communities. New is completing his fourth year of medical school.

• Javier Galvan was selected as a 2017 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow in recognition of his dedication and efforts already demonstrated in social justice and improving healthcare equity. Javier is completing his fourth year of medical school.

• Walid Hamud-Ahmed (MD 2017) was presented with the 2017 Gold-Headed Cane in recognition of qualities that “best represent those qualities of scholarship and devotion to the interests of patients, which characterize the true physician.” Ahmed’s training focused on the study of gun violence, the communities it affects, and ways in which healthcare professionals and community members can intervene and prevent gun injury. Walid is completing residency training in emergency medicine at UCSF-Fresno.

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