Rural Health Scholars Volunteer in Las Vegas

Published: October 21, 2016 | Author: Kasey Shakespear | Read Time: 2 minutes

Rural Health Scholars in Las VegasFor three days in October, twenty-three students from Dixie State University and Southern Utah University experienced the empathy of serving low income and homeless populations in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Rural Health Scholars program spent fall break, October 16-18, volunteering, performing health screenings, and shadowing physicians that serve these populations.

Students offered service at Shade Tree Women’s Shelter, 3 Square, Operation Clean the World, Opportunity Village, and the LBGTQ Center, interacting with those in need who, sorting supplies, serving food, and even playing with pets of shelter occupants.

These students also offered health screenings at the Salvation Army Shelter, and Catholic Charities. Services which included vision screenings, blood pressure checks, and blood glucose checks. Upon completing their screenings, participants were given lists of clinics where they could receive further care and pantries where they might find further supplies.

A handful of the students were able to shadowing with Dr. Jason Neilson MD, children’s bone and spinal specialist, Dr. Randy Christensen MD of the Nevada Health Centers Hope Clinic, and Elliot Shin, MD of the Hope Clinic. These providers were able to share not only their medical knowledge, but their passion for serving, and the overall efforts that are underway in Las Vegas to aid individuals who find themselves in need of shelter and resources.

Kasey Shakespear, a former Rural Health Scholars student, and new program coordinator for the Rural Health Scholars was the staff advisor for the trip and was “grateful for the willingness of these wonderful organizations to take these students under their wing and show them the power of empathy.

Douglas Hutchinson, a Junior Chemistry student at SUU, commented that “the trip was an amazing experience. Being surrounded by great people who care for the people in less fortunate areas was an eye opening experience I'll never forget.” He also commented that “the RHS and their staff are totally awesome for being a part of such a great cause and for providing this unforgettable experience.”

Las Vegas has a rising homeless population that now numbers nearly 10,000 men, women, and children. These populations struggle with extreme temperatures and harsh conditions. Cultural immersion trips expose students to these medically underserved communities domestically and abroad. During these trips, students gain valuable health care experience, engage in patient exposure and develop language skills while also shadowing physicians.

The Rural Health Scholars program at both Dixie State University and Southern Utah University assists students in becoming successful applicants to medical, nursing, podiatry, dental, pharmacy, and other graduate-level and allied health professions programs. Student applications are strengthened through a regimen of classes, seminars, community service, job shadowing, research and advisement.

The Rural Health Scholars will be traveling to Las Vegas again over spring break, for more information about cultural immersion trips or other  Utah Center for Rural Health programs, contact Karen Ganss at 435-865-8660 or visit

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