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Pre-Health Students Learn About Health Disparities in Denver

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Author(s)

Nicole Gordon

Health Disparities in Denver

Walking down a crowded street in Denver, it's hard to know how many people may face obstacles in receiving health care and what sort of social determinants are at play.

Nancy Lorenzon, director of DU's Pre-Professional/Allied Health Advising Center and a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, wants her students to become more attuned to these realities.

"I've realized that many of our students have a gap in their knowledge when it comes to the social determinants of health disparities, in Denver in particular as well as more generally in the United States," Lorenzon says. "I wanted to address these concerns to better prepare our undergraduate students for their future careers."

The result is Health Disparities in Denver, a two-day immersion program for several dozen undergraduate pre-health students to learn about the social determinants of health and the obstacles that result in health disparities and compromised health outcomes. Lorenzon's goal is to help students gain a better understanding of the obstacles faced by those who live in resource-limited conditions, whether related to socioeconomic status, residential segregation, transportation options, language and literacy, social norms and attitudes, or access to health care services, education, and job opportunities.

The program includes a theatrical performance, "Loose Change," presented by Kaiser Permanente's Care Equity Project; a poverty simulation exercise; a presentation on the demographics of Denver; and a variety of workshops.

"I’m excited to be participating in this program as it's a chance for me to become more educated about issues that I may have previously been apathetic or passive about," says sophomore Ruth Hollenback, who is preparing for medical school. "I look forward to taking what I've learned about health disparities and applying it to my career later in life as I know that these issues are very real in our world and in Denver."