UW creates homelessness course to parallel Tent City stay

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UW creates homelessness course to parallel Tent City stay

10-week series of expert speakers aims to give Health Sciences students an essential understanding; lectures to be live-streamed
Dennis Raymond

In concert with the University of Washington's hosting of Seattle's Tent City 3, which begins this weekend, the school's training program for physician assistants will offer a "Homelessness in Seattle" academic course to UW's Health Sciences students. 

MEDEX Northwest, the training program based in the UW School of Medicine, has worked with the five other Health Sciences schools to build a 10-week curriculum of lectures by people with expertise in homelessness. Lectures will be held from 6 to 7:50 p.m. Thursdays starting Jan. 5, 2017, and ending March 9. The lectures will be live-streamed via the MEDEX YouTube channel to broaden the potential audience.

[Registration and course information here.]

Thirty-five Health Sciences students (across Nursing, Social Work, Pharmacy, Public Health, Dentistry and Medicine) can register for the for-credit course; an additional 15 spots are open for auditing. All for-credit students must make at least two faculty-supervised visits to Tent City 3 to engage with camp residents on healthcare issues.

The local group University District Street Medicine will help facilitate student-resident interactions. 

The course's co-chairs are Lois Thetford, physician-assistant and MEDEX faculty member, and Charlotte Sanders, a teaching associate in the School of Social Work. They will be among the course lecturers.

"Homelessness is much bigger than a 10-week course," Thetford said. "This course covers very basic information: Who are homeless? What are their problems? Medical, mental health, addiction problems. Dental problems. 

"This course is just the beginning. I see this as an evolving thing. There will be many pieces that we can develop from this beginning," Thetford said.

In June, UW President Ana Mari Cauce authorized the establishment of Tent City 3 on the UW campus. This organized group of up to homeless individuals, including some families, will occupy the west campus Lot W35 starting Dec. 17 and  be onsite for the first three months of 2017. As the encampment was readying to open, about 65 people were prepared to move in on Day One.

Related story, slideshows and video here.