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Kansas City University medical students learn how social determinants affect health care

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At the KC Care Clinic, medical students from Kansas City University hear about patients' lived experiences and get tips from peer educators on how doctors can be more empathic towards their patients.

Care from a clinic or hospital accounts for about 20% of a person's health, while the other 80% is affected by the community that surrounds them. That's why one medical school professor is teaching medical students about social determinants.

Dr. Benjamin Grin, and assistant professor of primary care at Kansas City University, is teaching his medical students how factors such as social stigma, where a person lives and systemic racism an affect their health care.

In his course for first- and second-year medical students, Dr. Grin incorporates conversations with people who have lived with the conditions students might encounter in the clinic. One such "peer educator" is Russell Campillo, who is living with HIV and was formerly a substance user. The approach adds a face to Dr. Grins' lessons and helps teach the future doctors to be empathic to their patients' situations.

When patients don't feel like their doctor understands where they're coming from they may be more reluctant to seek care, Dr. Grin explained.

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