Senior Instructor Janet Beezley, MS ’98, RN, ANP, PNP, has been caring for underserved communities throughout her 30-year career. She describes her work as a true calling, “something I’ve personally felt from an early age.”
Beezley, who holds BS degrees in nursing and social work, has tended to the health care needs of homeless patients at the Samaritan Shelter Clinic in Denver for the past 14 years.
As a faculty member of CU UNITE, Beezley supervises and precepts interdisciplinary teams of students from the CU College of Nursing and the CU School of Medicine and its physician assistant program.
“It’s my dream job,” she says. “Now I get to mentor students who really want to work with underserved people in urban areas.”
CU UNITE—Colorado Urban Underserved Interprofessional Health Training and Education—is an interdisciplinary, optional track designed for students who want to work with urban underserved communities. Added to the students’ regular load, the track provides the skills and support these future health care providers will need. The Colorado Health Foundation has funded CU UNITE with a three-year grant, enabling tuition waivers. The number of applicants has doubled in the past year as more students have learned about the track, Beezley says.
“It’s easy to get burned out doing this kind of work,” she says. “The social and cultural considerations can be overwhelming.” CU UNITE is working to prevent burnout by providing workshops about health concerns such as HIV-AIDS and pediatric obesity. Mindfulness training and learning Spanish are other components of the program.
In addition to providing health screenings at high-risk middle schools, last fall the team offered a day of foot care for the homeless at three locations in the Denver area. One of the most rewarding aspects of her work, Beezley says, is how students interact with their patients and each other. “I saw a nursing student and a medical student washing the feet of a patient. They were a team, so compassionate and so competent,” Beezley says. “Those kinds of moments are very exciting.”