Grant allows University to create externship position with HOPES

University highlights psychology graduates’ work at HOPES clinic during National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day March 10

3/7/2014 - By: Annie Conway
HOPES clinic University graduate psychology students (from left to right) Caitlin McLean, Jessica Engle and Frances Gonzalez serve the northern Nevada community at the HOPES clinic due to the Graduate Psychology Education Program Grant the University received last year.

The University of Nevada, Reno's Department of Psychology received the Graduate Psychology Education Program Grant last year, which allowed the University to develop an externship program at the Northern Nevada HOPES clinic. The psychology department and the clinic observe the externship program during National Woman and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Monday, March 10.
 
Northern Nevada HOPES is a nonprofit community health center that provides coordinated healthcare to support individual and family wellness. As a part of their mission, they treat underserved groups including clients who have HIV/AIDS, are homeless, living in poverty, or use drugs. Many HOPES clients do not have access to quality affordable health care. The grant provides funding to train psychology students to work as part of an integrated health care team that provides services to a diverse clinical population.

"They are treating many clients who would not have access to services through any other venue," Victoria Follette, professor and chair of the psychology department within the College of Liberal Arts, said. "We have bilingual clients, clients with HIV and Hepatitis C, and primary care clients who do not have access to affordable health care at this time."

Dr. Trudy Larson, director of the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno, co-founded HOPES in 1990 making it the first clinic for those with HIV/AIDS in the Truckee Meadows. Thanks to these efforts and other such efforts, there has not been a baby born in northern Nevada with HIV/AIDS in 20 years.

The grant allowed three graduate psychology students, Jessica Engle, Frances Gonzalez and Caitlin McLean, the chance to serve the northern Nevada community through their work at the HOPES clinic.

"HOPES strives to create opportunities for local students in the healthcare fields," Sharon Chamberlain, the chief executive officer of HOPES, said. "The partnership with the University and the expertise of Dr. Follette has greatly enriched the students experience while enhancing the care available for our patients."

Fifteen Graduate Psychology Education Program grants were awarded averaging $155,438 to universities and health care institutions. The psychology department was one of only five doctoral programs in the country to receive the grant last year. The grant has allowed the students to use their backgrounds and skills to help and learn from a diverse range of patients.

"My experiences at HOPES have been amazing, especially since I get to work with such a diverse population," Gonzales said. "Being Latina and bilingual has allowed me to gain better understanding of the needs of the Reno Latino community."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. are women. African-American women account for close to 64 percent of all new infections among women, and Latina women have an HIV rate more than four times that of Caucasian women.

"Many of our patients also face stigma and prejudice either because they are homeless, live with HIV, use drugs, or are a racial or sexual minority," Engle said. "Even with these barriers, I've seen some incredible resilience. I not only feel honored working with my clients at HOPES, but I feel inspired by their strength." 

HOPES provides free HIV testing from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Community members can stop by HOPES or schedule an appointment by calling 775-771-8987. For more information about HOPES, visit http://www.nnhopes.org/.


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