On April 19, 2021, Talmadge King, Dean of the UCSF School of Medicine, issued special commendations to 21 UC Berkeley undergraduate students who made exceptional contributions to their COVID response in 2020-2021. As part of UCSF’s service-learning program, the Patient Support Corps, students received training to serve as additional patient navigators on their COVID hotline. Students connected with callers to assist them with appropriate strategies for testing, tracing, treatment, return-to-work, and vaccination. During the pandemic, the hotline experienced very high call volume and the students’ support was invaluable.
The following students received a commendation: Zahra Anwar; Kaveh Boostanpour; Emily Chang; Sasha Demeulenare; Sneha Karthikeyan; Azeen Keihani; Tasmiah Khan; Vinson Mak; Marissa McPhaul; Jasper Murphy; Jacqueline Nguyen; Eric Nguyen; Lisa Qiu; Lydia Sayad; Mahima Sinha; Saffanat Sumra; Isabelle Thapar; Albert Tran; Angela Wei; Rayann Yao and Iris Yen. Additionally, Sneha Karthikeyan and Jasper Murphy are now co-authors in a pre-printed paper: Extending the Population Health Workforce through Service Learning Internships during COVID.
Every semester, UC Berkeley’s Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, URAP, provides nearly 1900 students with these types of hands-on research opportunities on campus. It also partners with a number of organizations, such as UCSF’s Patient Support Corps, to pair students with programs that enable them to engage more deeply in research. Undergraduate students are connected with faculty and research staff mentors, who provide guidance so that students may explore special interests, deepen knowledge, and experience what it means to be part of an intellectual community engaged in research. One former student apprentice shared, “This apprenticeship has been the highlight of my time at Berkeley. It has given me a chance to help patients in difficult medical situations, and as a pre-health undergraduate, this is important to me.”
Due to the past year’s successes, UCSF has invested in a three-year plan to expand the use of students in similar positions. Berkeley undergraduate student, Saffanat Sumra, is a recipient of this year's URAP summer stipend so that she may support the expansion project with UCSF. According to Jeff Belkora, Director, Patient Support Corps at UCSF, “This internship program has also attracted additional funding, which will help attract more students from under-represented backgrounds to the internships. Students who are LatinX, Black, or Native American/Indigenous are especially under-represented in health professions and internships can play an important role in increasing diversity in the pipeline of future health care workers.”
More information about URAP can be found on their website.