Community service at Health Science Center featured at conference, earns federal recognition

SAN ANTONIO (April 5, 2012) — The innovative ways that students of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio serve the community go on display Thursday, April 5, at the fifth-annual community service learning conference. Such efforts recently landed the UT Health Science Center on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for a third straight year.

“This national recognition is a tribute to the students and faculty mentors who give so much of themselves to benefit our community and beyond,” said Ruth Berggren, M.D., professor of infectious diseases in the School of Medicine and director of the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics. “The most important lessons often come not from books or lectures but from the people we encounter in our lives. We encourage students to put ethical principles into action through community service learning.”

The daylong conference, “Meeting the Social Mission: Health Science Education Through Community Collaborations,” will be held at the School of Nursing at 7703 Floyd Curl Drive. It is organized by the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics at the UT Health Science Center.

In addition to showcasing student community service learning projects in poster presentations and during a noon panel discussion, the conference features a number of speakers.

The keynote address, on social accountability in medical education, will be delivered at 9:15 a.m. by Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D., a pediatrician and health policy expert at George Washington University. Educated at Harvard and the University of Chicago, Dr. Mullan trained in pediatrics in the Bronx, N.Y., before spending more than 20 years as a commissioned officer of the United States Public Health Service, where he held several leadership positions.

Dr. Mullan has written extensively on medical and health policy topics, and his books include “Big Doctoring in America: Profiles in Primary Care,” “Plagues and Politics: The Story of the United States Public Health Service,” “Vital Signs: A Young Doctor’s Struggle with Cancer,” and “White Coat, Clenched Fist: The Political Education of an American Physician.” He was the original editor of the first-person Narrative Matters essays in the journal Health Affairs.

Also speaking is Randy Christensen, M.D., M.P.H., author of “Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them.” The book recounts Dr. Christensen’s experiences caring for homeless children and adolescents in Phoenix, Ariz., in the Crews’n Healthmobile II, a 38-foot Winnebago retrofitted as a doctor’s office.

Joined by Julie Watson, LPN, a nurse aboard the Crews’n Healthmobile, Dr. Christensen will speak at 3:35 p.m. on caring for underserved populations.

A complete conference agenda is available here.

In mid-March, partly due to efforts like those highlighted at the conference, the UT Health Science Center was admitted to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The distinction from the Corporation for National and Community Service highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems while putting students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.

The UT Health Science Center is the only health campus in Texas to make the honor roll, and one of only seven nationwide.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $231 million in fiscal year 2011. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $736 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit

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