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Poverty Immersion in Colorado Springs

​Each year in mid-August, students and faculty from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs participate in a two-day project called the Poverty Immersion in Colorado Springs (PICOS) to help them better understand the community's health care needs.

PICOS is a collaboration of multiple organizations in Colorado Springs educating students, faculty and community stakeholders in the demographics and factors affecting health conditions and needs of the community. Activities include community resource presentations, a simulated one-month poverty experience and living “a day in the life” of people with limited resources. 

The community developed the PICOS educational program to prepare second-year medical students from the University of Colorado School of Medicine Colorado Springs Branch prior to entering a year of clinical training. These students will conduct their third-year clinical rotations with health care providers throughout the Colorado Springs community starting the following April. 

“Just as health care students and providers need to know human anatomy, they also need to know the anatomy of the community in which they learn and practice,” said Erik Wallace, MD, associate dean for the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Colorado Springs Branch. “The PICOS program will help us work collaboratively to improve the health of our community.” 

PICOS is designed to give participants the knowledge and skills to describe demographics and health care disparities within the Colorado Springs community; to define health equity and analyze social determinants of health effects on health outcomes; and to obtain and utilize basic resources while experiencing life in poverty. 

PICOS includea up to 50 participants from CU School of Medicine, UCCS Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and the Colorado Springs community.