City Of Angels
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The clinic receives logistical support from the university and has faculty
advisers — Michael Prelip M.P.H. '85, a professor of community health
in the School of Public Health, and Denise Garvey M.D. '94, a physician at the
UCLA Brentwood Medical Group. With an operating budget of about $10,000, mostly
from grants and some student fund-raising, it is a lean operation. Undergraduates
who volunteer for the clinic take a four-unit service-learning course —
one that combines academic content with active participation in an organized
service that meets community needs. The class, "Introductions to Interventions
for At-Risk Populations,” teaches them about issues of homelessness, about
drug and alcohol dependency, mental illness and despair, and the skills they'll
have to have on the street to help address the needs of this neglected population.
As an element of service learning, the clinic amply demonstrates UCLA's commitment
to provide students with these kinds of real-world experiences. Each year between
1,500 and 2,000 undergraduates participate in similar programs through 15 to
20 different academic departments at UCLA, says Kathy O'Byrne, executive director
of the Center for Experiential Education and Service Learning, which is part
of Honors and Undergraduate Programs in the College.
Among all those programs, the clinic is somewhat unique because it draws together
three distinct campus cultures — undergraduates, medical students and
graduate students in public health — and puts them in an environment in
which they must work in concert with each other.
"What goes on in these classes involves students in entirely new ways.
They are no longer passive recipients of information,” O'Byrne says. "They
are engaged and involved in their own learning in a way that just reading a
book or writing a paper doesn't.”
Students participating with the clinic readily concur with O'Byrne's assessment
of the merits of such programs.