Rural Health Scholars serve Las Vegas residents in need

Rural HealthUsing their fall breaks to serve others, 23 students in the Rural Health Scholars program at Dixie State University and Southern Utah University helped low-income and homeless populations in Las Vegas by performing health screenings for three days in October. Students offered vision screenings, blood pressure checks and blood glucose tests at the Salvation Army Shelter and Catholic Charities. Additionally, the Rural Health Scholars offered service at Shade Tree Women’s Shelter, 3 Square, Operation Clean the World, Opportunity Village and the LBGTQ Center, interacting with those in need by sorting supplies, serving food and even playing with pets of shelter occupants. A handful of students also shadowed Dr. Jason Neilson, children’s bone and spinal specialist, Dr. Randy Christensen, of the Nevada Health Centers Hope Clinic, and Dr. Elliot Shin, of the Hope Clinic. These providers shared not only their medical knowledge but also their passion for serving. “I am grateful for the willingness of these wonderful organizations to take these students under their wing and show them the power of empathy,” Kasey Shakespear, the program coordinator for Rural Health Scholars, said. The scholars will travel to Las Vegas again over spring break. The city has a rising homeless population that now numbers nearly 10,000 men, women and children. These populations struggle with extreme temperatures and harsh conditions. Cultural immersion trips expose students to medically underserved communities domestically and abroad. During these trips, students gain valuable health care experience, engage in patient exposure and develop language skills while shadowing physicians. The Rural Health Scholars program assists students in becoming successful applicants to medical, nursing, podiatry, dental, pharmacy and other graduate-level and allied health profession programs. Student applications are strengthened through a regimen of classes, seminars, community service, job shadowing, research and advisement. For more information about the Rural Health Scholars program, visit