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Anschutz Medical Campus Students Provide Health Access to Aurora Community

The DAWN Clinic (Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs), a partnership between the Aurora community and Anschutz Medical Campus, opened in March 2015.  The clinic is a student-staffed free clinic that serves uninsured adults in Aurora, a diverse community comprised of many refugees and immigrants from around the world.  

Each Tuesday night the DAWN Clinic offers free medical services to the community.  Students from the School of Medicine (MD Program, Physical Therapy Program, and Physician Assistant Program), Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Colorado School of Public Health, College of Nursing, and School of Dental Medicine band together to provide these services and learn what it means to provide quality health care to a community in need. 

The DAWN Clinic was conceptualized, developed, and is run by more than 200 students from the Anschutz Medical Campus.  Students have worked together to understand the needs of the community and to form integrated care teams to address these needs.  When a patient visits the clinic, students are the first point of contact, but patients also see a licensed professional before the end of their visit.  

“The primary care system can be so fragmented,” David Choi, a third-year pharmacy student says, “with every health care provider working in their own silos, paying no attention to what the other providers are doing in the silos right next door. Here, we’re working together as a team to provide holistic care that serves patients well and keeps them from falling out of the system.”

For students, the DAWN Clinic is an additional opportunity to practice clinical skills in a medically underserved environment.  They are also gaining a unique opportunity to gain clinical knowledge in a highly inter-professional environment.  

There are currently 50 CU Physical Therapy students who are volunteering at the DAWN Clinic.  Jenna Walton, a second-year DPT student, has been highly involved in the formation of the clinic and is serving as a Clinic Manager and Clinical Service Chair of Procurement.  Walton says, “This experience has completely transformed the way that I view healthcare and, as a result, the kind of clinician I will be in the future. It has also been such a rewarding experience to work alongside students and clinicians across all professions. Each profession came together to create a unique model of care that effectively integrated medicine, physical therapy, pharmacy, dental medicine, behavioral health and social services to provide the best interdisciplinary care for our patients.”