The Medical School partners with Central Falls School District to spark student interest in health careers.
This fall, students in Central Falls are learning more about how good health impacts every aspect of life—and how they can someday become health care professionals.
Calcutt Middle School is now home to a SMART Health and Wellness Clinic and the inaugural site for SMART Plus, an initiative led by The Warren Alpert Medical School that’s designed to spark early interest in health and medicine careers.
Joseph Diaz MD’96 RES’99 F’01 MPH’09, associate dean for diversity and multicultural affairs, says the medical education component is particularly important given Central Falls’ federal designation as having a shortage of health professionals in relation to the population.
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to introduce Central Falls students to a variety of careers in health care and to increase their sense of possibility in terms of what types of professional futures are available to them,” Diaz says. “This opportunity provides students access to ongoing mentorship and conversations about health and health care careers.”
Calcutt’s SMART clinic, funded by The Warren Alpert Foundation, will join established SMART clinics at two Providence schools. SMART clinicians identify and address the physical, behavioral, social, and emotional risks to classroom success, then design and deliver interventions through on-site, real-time health services. The clinics, which include nurses, social workers, and other health professionals, treat all students without regard to insurance or immigration status.
The partnership with Brown will leverage the expertise and experience of medical students, faculty, and staff, Diaz says. They will assist with clinical treatment in the clinic and participate separately in classroom engagement.
Meanwhile the SMART Plus pathways program will introduce Calcutt students to medical education. In high school, students will continue learning about health and medical careers, and may choose to participate in a summer or after-school program with the Medical School. Students who attend Rhode Island College, Providence College, or the University of Rhode Island may apply to the Month of Medical School program with Brown, apply for a related internship, or connect with mentors they may first have met in class years ago.
“This program increases the potential for Central Falls students to attend medical school, do their residency in Rhode Island, and then stay to practice medicine in the community,” Diaz says.
As part of a competitive awards program, Brown’s proposal for the SMART Plus Pathways program was selected by The Warren Alpert Foundation to receive $2.4 million in support. The grant covers all technical assistance, training, start-up operations, and infrastructure costs to develop the new SMART site, while the Medical School will fund an additional $2.4 million in program costs.
This award to fund Brown’s role in the SMART Clinic comes amid other foundation support for the life sciences at Brown. Over the past two years, The Warren Alpert Foundation has also funded the following high-impact projects: $4.6 million to the research and development of an mRNA malaria vaccine for children; $3.4 million to investigate a novel therapy for pancreatic cancer; $2.5 million to study targeted intensive case management of veterans at risk of suicide after inpatient hospitalization; and $1.2 million for a public health project evaluating a skilled nursing facility payment system.
The total amount from the foundation over the past year and a half—$14 million—supports a variety of innovative research and education initiatives, aimed at ultimately improving the health and well-being of people in Rhode Island and beyond. The Warren Alpert Foundation is also the largest philanthropic donor in the school’s 50-year history, giving $100 million in 2007, which renamed the school, and $27 million in 2016 to support the training of physician-scientists.