Training Students as Navigators for Patients Experiencing Homelessness

Alison Liu, Arlen Suarez, Jamie Lehnen, Arnav Kak, Dalia Mitchell, Garrett Ray, Heather Lanier, Chandana Golla, Natalie Bonner, Thanos Rossopoulos, Umaru Barrie, P. A. Patti Pagels, Philip Day, Nora Gimpel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: Despite the significant effects of homelessness on health, medical and health professions students rarely receive formal education in caring for individuals experiencing homelessness. We describe the implementation and evaluation of a novel student-run Patient Navigator Program (PNP) and its prerequisite elective that trains students in patient navigation principles specific to homelessness in the local community. Methods: We analyzed pre-and postsurvey matched responses from students immediately before and after course completion. The survey utilizes the externally-validated instruments Health Professional Attitudes Toward the Homeless Inventory (HPATHI) and the Student-Run Free Clinic Project (SRFCP) survey. We examined differences using paired t tests and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. Students also completed separate end-of-curriculum evaluation forms assessing satisfaction with the course. Results: After completing the elective, students (n=45) demonstrated improvement in self-assessed attitude towards individuals experiencing homelessness (P=.03), specifically an increase in reported social advocacy (P<.001); and an increase in self-perceived knowledge about (P<.001), efficacy in wo rking wi th (P =.01), an d skills in caring for (P<.001) underserved groups. The elective also received high student satisfaction ratings. Conclusions: Formal education in patient navigation and caring for individuals experiencing homelessness improves self-assessed preparedness of future health care providers in serving homeless and underserved populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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