Eugene York, MD, is the course director of the Health Advocacy Practicum (HAP) at Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health in West Reading, Pa. He has served the College of Medicine as a clinical associate professor. A clinician at Reading Hospital – Tower Health, Dr. York founded the Reading Hospital Street Medicine Program.
What will your role with Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health entail?
I am the course director of the Health Advocacy Practicum (HAP), a core course for first- and second-year medical students. The goal of HAP is to engage medical students with various organizations and sites that serve our community. HAP teaches students about social determinants of health, health disparities and trauma-responsive care.
Please tell me about your professional background and what you enjoy most about medical education.
My career path in internal medicine has included roles as chair and chief of medicine, student clerkship and residency director, academic hospitalist, urgent care director and private practice physician. I have been fortunate to win teaching awards with Penn State University, University of South Florida, Pinnacle Health and Lehigh Valley, and to have been nominated for a Golden Apple Award this year by College of Medicine students. I feel honored to teach and exchange ideas or experiences with those who will shape the future of this wonderful profession.
Bringing hope, health care, insurance and housing options to those who face hurdles in life is of value to those individuals, the health system, the community, and ourselves.
You're a founder of the Reading Hospital Street Medicine Program. Please tell me more about the mission and activities of that program, and why you helped found it.
Founding the Street Medicine Program at Reading Hospital is a highlight of my life. The program has been a success due to the hard work and dedication of the administrators, physicians, nurses and other health care professionals who make it happen on a daily basis. Bringing hope, health care, insurance and housing options to those who face hurdles in life is of value to those individuals, the health system, the community, and ourselves.
Based on your experiences helping people who are facing homelessness, what should current medical students know about providing effective, respectful and culturally competent care to members of underserved populations?
When medical students encounter people experiencing homelessness, I guarantee perspectives and preconceptions will shatter, as they did for us. The homeless population is one of the nicest and most appreciative groups you could wish to care for; they deserve respect, cultural understanding and assistance.
There is a saying that goes, “You cannot teach empathy, but you can learn it.” Students participating in street medicine will see the meaning of this on their very first street medicine experience. Whether it is at the rescue mission, the soup kitchen, the mobile eye clinic, pulmonary testing, the telehealth kiosk or the tent site, students will see the value of the work to the people they care for, and to their medical education.
What do you think College of Medicine at Tower Health students will gain from living and learning in West Reading?
College of Medicine students in West Reading are poised for a wonderful and life-changing experience. The foundation of becoming a physician will be formed here. The medical school is absolutely beautiful, in an idyllic setting and vista. The faculty is an incredibly talented group of professionals who are dedicated to the success and well-being of every student. It is a short walk away from Reading Hospital, one of the premier teaching facilities in the country, which together with medical school training will transform each student into an accomplished and professional physician.
As students will learn, the town of West Reading is charming, full of good food, fun activities and friendly people. We are eager to welcome the talented and accomplished inaugural class to the beautiful Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health.