IDEAS xLab intentionally crafts an approach that puts artists working together with healthcare professionals. Beginning Spring 2017, we are excited about a new partnership that will activate new thinking around health equity and social justice by pairing artists together with medical students at the University of Louisville in The Health and Social Justice Scholars Program.
This program provides a unique opportunity of educating professional and doctoral students in an inter-professional manner to produce high quality scholarly activities related to health equity, health and healthcare disparities, social justice, and healthcare innovation with the goal of benefitting underserved and disadvantaged populations. The program is comprehensive, providing scholars conceptual learning modules, research experience, mentoring, service learning, and professional development. The program is managed by the Health Sciences Center (HSC) Office of Diversity and Inclusion with high collaboration with Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health and Information Sciences, as well as community partners like IDEAS xLab.
Mallika Sabharwal, UofL Social Justice Scholar with IDEAS xLab
As an undergraduate student at the University of Florida, Mallika Sabharwal volunteered at the Equal Access Clinic, a student-run free clinic that provided medical care to underinsured communities in North Florida. Patients were often uninsured, homeless, or undocumented immigrants. Learning how the clinic addresses non-medical barriers she designed a social services resource manual for volunteers to refer to patients, like local GED classes and federal aid program enrollment. Before starting medical school, she worked at the Chicago Department of Public Health through the CDC’s Public Health Associate Program. In Chicago, Mallika worked in the school-based sexually transmitted disease program which educated and tested high school students on the south and west sides of the city, areas of high morbidity that also lacked health care professionals.
Currently a second year medical student at the University of Louisville, Mallika is an active member of Students for a National Health Program, advocating for equitable and affordable healthcare for vulnerable populations.
Scholar’s Project with IDEAS xLab
The University of Louisville medical campus is directly adjacent to IDEAS xLab's focus community for Project HEAL. Despite this proximity, Smoketown residents have a 9 year lower life expectancy than Louisville's average. Mallika’s project will work with artists and residents to identify individual and community gaps in access to health and medical services. Through focus groups and personal narrative collections (Photovoice or other creative expression) of individual community members, the goal is to understand the health inequities of Smoketown and explore sustainable solutions. Similar to Project HEAL’s community-based participatory research, Mallika's project will engage community members to tell their stories related to health access which aims to empower them to seek and sustain medical care in their community.