Media Advisory: To better understand patients’ lives, UB medical students will interact with and reflect on city’s diverse communities

Students will meet with residents from a variety of Buffalo neighborhoods

Release Date: April 11, 2017 This content is archived.

“Our community immersion program will help familiarize some of them with the communities with which they’ll be interacting on a daily basis. ”
Linda Pessar, MD, Director, UB Center for Medical Humanities
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. — This week, 11 first-year students from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo will spend their spring break learning about a different side of Buffalo.

Sponsored by the UB Center for Medical Humanities, the Buffalo Community Immersion program is designed to expose students to the social and cultural factors that affect Buffalo’s citizens, issues they will encounter with patients once they start clinical rotations in their third year.

The Center for Medical Humanities reinforces the idea that medicine is an art as well as a science, and that a truly comprehensive medical education requires students to be aware of not just the medical and scientific components of health care, but the social and ethical ones as well.

 “Our community immersion program is one way that we try to instill in students how critical the element of trust is between doctor and patient, and that developing that trust requires some understanding of the social, economic, psychological and cultural issues patients deal with,” explained Linda F. Pessar, MD, director of the center and professor emerita of psychiatry.

She said the impending move downtown of the medical school makes those lessons all the more immediate.

“All of the students currently attending the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will be making the move downtown when our school moves into the new building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus,” she said. “Our community immersion program will help familiarize some of them with the communities with which they’ll be interacting on a daily basis.”

Pessar said support for the program has been extraordinarily positive, from the administration of the medical school itself to Buffalo’s community organizations.

“Everyone from our dean and his colleagues to the community organizations I contacted has been immediately supportive,” she said.

The week-long program, held during the students’ spring break, includes tours of the Martin Luther King neighborhood, a meeting at Hopewell Baptist Church, visits to a mosque and a meeting with Yemeni women.

This year, it also includes, at the students’ request, meetings with marginalized populations, including developmentally disabled people, people with chronic mental illness and those who are involved in methadone maintenance programs, as well as the agencies that serve them.

A schedule of events is below and many are open to members of the media. Interested media should contact Ellen Goldbaum at or 716-645-4605.

The schedule:

Poverty, Race and Culture, April 11

10 a.m. to noon — Hopewell Baptist Church, meet community members, have lunch.

12:30 p.m. — walking tour through Martin Luther King neighborhood.

1:30 p.m. — discussion with Henry Taylor, professor of urban and regional planning at UB.

Immigrants, refugees and working class neighborhoods, April 12

·         9 a.m. — Introduction to Yemeni community in Lackawanna with Gamileh Jamil at Access WNY.

·         10 a.m. to noon — Conversation with Yemeni women and lunch.

·         Noon to 1 p.m. — Mosque visit.

·         2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visit to Seneca-Babcock neighborhood.

Health care for marginalized populations and program wrapup,

April 13

Visits to various social service agencies in Buffalo.


Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605