Sam Houston State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine takes a holistic approach to teaching healthcare and addressing the shortage of primary care physicians in Texas by seeking out underserved populations in need.

In keeping with that mission, SHSU created a monthly community medical outreach day in partnership with the Montgomery County homeless coalition and the Conroe Salvation Army. During the second Saturday of each month, Osteopathic medical students and faculty from Sam Houston State will be committing their mornings to helping others in the community.

Earlier this month, SHSU-COM kicked off this initiative with students attending to this underserved population for the first time and meeting many people in critical need of care right away.

“The students did a great job working together, cleaning up, and showing love to our neighbors,” said Dr. Shannon Jimenez, associate professor and Chair of Primary Care and Clinical Medicine. “This is the beginning of a beautiful thing. I am so proud of our students, I could cry.”

Students and faculty administered healthcare to community members through general first aid, health education and heart disease risk screenings including cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure measurement.

“We helped one person find immediate shelter and healthcare, keeping him out of the emergency room,” Jimenez said. “Others were helped by signing up for community assistance, including Medicare and Medicaid, and we were also able to refer several to local community health centers for chronic disease management. We also diagnosed a new diabetic, a potentially serious medication error, and others with serious high blood pressure and cholesterol issues.”

Jimenez plans to advance this community outreach as the College of Osteopathic Medicine continues to expand with each new class of Bearkat student doctors. The SHSU School of Nursing will also be involved in future events, as Jimenez sees this monthly service as a great way to get all healthcare students firsthand experience in the field.

“We would love to have this community medical outreach grow. We want to be able to serve all the needs of our community,” Jimenez said. “This is what students go into healthcare for, to be able to help people in need. It does a lot for advancing their education as well, because it helps to put the things that they are learning in the classroom into their hands right away. Being able to diagnose someone on the spot helps build confidence in what they are learning. It also helps to build a sense of community among our Bearkats.”

The next community medical outreach day is scheduled for Feb. 13 from 9 a.m. to Noon at the Conroe Salvation Army, located at 304 Avenue E, Conroe, Texas.