Universidade Anhembi Morumbi’s (UAM) Mooca campus in São Paolo has become an integral part of its community, in large part because of the work of one woman. Cássia Abrantes do Amaral, a professor of pediatrics at the medical school, has made it her mission to ensure that the community’s children are given excellent medical care and that UAM students are the ones giving it.
UAM’s medical school is only seven years old, and Amaral has been with the program since its inception. But it was only about a year ago that she visited two municipality kindergartens in the surrounding community and realized how underserved the residents were, particularly the children.
“They had no kind of continuous health records,” Amaral said. “And everyone knows that patients who receive individual follow-up and continuous care have a much better outlook.” Recognizing that this was not a possibility for these children, she began bringing in groups of UAM students from the Pediatrics League to do initial exams. The students keep detailed records and provide referrals for those who need further treatment. Those referrals send most of the children to free or low-cost clinics on the UAM campus, making follow-through for the children and their families very easy.
“We have managed to create a bond between the campus, our students and the community,” Amaral said. And in the process, UAM students are receiving hands-on experience with treatment and patient care. To date, over 540 UAM students have been involved with the initiative, serving over 200 children from the community.
There are plans to expand the program to include a wider range of services and specialties, including audiology, psychiatry and dentistry, as well as to involve departments in addition to the medical school. For Amaral, an important outcome of the program, besides providing excellent medical care, is the effect it has on her students.
“Our students show up promptly and ready to serve no matter what time it is,” Amaral said. “We are truly teaching them how to make a difference.”