PNWU's Hugo Araujo Provides Service to Underserved and Addiction-Struck Massachusetts Community

112_AraujoLino.jpgWhile participating in a pre-med program at Rutgers University in New Jersey, fourth-year Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences Osteopathic Medical Student Hugo Araujo took a ride up to Boston for a day to explore the historic city. Having already volunteered and participated in different programs across the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and India, Araujo is well-versed in exploring. The short timeframe of his New England adventure, however, didn’t allow for much exploration. This summer, Araujo is set to become very familiar with the area he had only visited briefly, having been accepted into the General Electric-National Medical Fellowship’s (NMF) Primary Care Leadership Program (PCLP). 

“I read about the program online, learned about its history and decided to apply,” explained Araujo of the GE-NMF PCLP. NMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minority physicians in the healthcare workforce in order to improve access to quality healthcare in medically underserved communities.

“I was born and raised in rural areas where access to healthcare is very limited, so learning more about community health care organizations and working with underserved communities has always caught my interests.”

Araujo was assigned to a site at Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, Massachusetts. While in Dorchester, in addition to doing clinical work in a primary care setting, he’ll begin developing a research project with the community focused on substance use and stigma. 

According to the Boston Globe, the overdose rate in Massachusetts, where Araujo’s community-focused research will take place, is more than twice the national average. In fact, only four states have a higher heroin death rate than Massachusetts. 

“Our goal is to better understand this issue to improve services for patients treated for substance use disorders and to reduce staff and provider burnout,” he explained. Established in 2012, NMF’s innovative service-learning program, paired with Araujo’s training and experience, will provide an opportunity to do just that.

GE-NMF’s Primary Care Leadership Program offers students like Araujo an opportunity to examine the challenges and rewards of primary care practice at community health centers (CHC) across the United States. GE-NMF PCLP Scholars actively engage in leadership training, site-directed project activities and healthcare service delivery in order to increase the pipeline of doctors, nurses and physician assistants who have the professional knowledge, cultural competency and commitment to provide quality healthcare for all members of our diverse society.

“It is very important to increase the representation of minorities in the medical field,” Araujo said. “As a country, we are becoming more diverse day by day, yet the representation of students of color in medicine is not. Therefore, this is a great program to promote diversity in the medical field and increase the number of medical graduates serving underserved populations.”

At the conclusion of the program, Araujo will present his research project at a National Symposium in Boston University.

“I believe it is a great opportunity for me and all other PCLP scholars to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and rewards of healthcare delivery in community centers across the states,” said Araujo. “The overall mission of the program goes hand in hand with PNWU’s mission; to target medically underserved populations. Through the program I hope to gain more experience working with underserved and diverse populations within our country.”