A broad range of University of Wisconsin-Madison health professions and medical residents will have the opportunity to help address a pressing public health issue most don’t even consider – the health of prison populations.

The Nehemiah Community Development Corporation was awarded $38,500 for its project titled Increasing Access to Quality Healthcare in Correctional Settings by Expanding Health Workforce Capacity. The effort will include nursing, medical, physician assistant and pharmacy students, and medical residents.

The project will assemble a cross-campus multidisciplinary class on correctional health care to provide an overview of the complicated criminal justice system, and match future graduates to mentors delivering health care to people in prison, according to Courtney Saxler, program officer with the Wisconsin Partnership Program, which funded the award.

“The goal of our Community Catalyst Grant program is to support community-driven efforts to improve health equity,” she said. “By connecting the community expertise and experience of Nehemiah with the education and training expertise of the University of Wisconsin, the project provides an innovative, community-led approach to address the unique health care challenges and health disparities that incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals face.”

In addition to curriculum and panel discussions, the project aims to develop a mentored relationship between trainees and mentors focusing on the importance of delivering quality health care to the incarcerated.

The program will include 10 online modules with didactic material and case studies that can be done at any time; two in-person panel discussions; an optional jail/prison facility tour and optional mentoring and shadowing experience, according to Karen Reece, PhD, director of research and program evaluation at the Nehemiah Community Development Corporation.

The shadowing will be arranged to fit the learner's needs and schedule.

The class will be offered this fall and again in the spring 2019 semester, according to Robert Striker, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. He will work with the Nehemiah corporation to execute the new program at the UW-Madison health science schools.

To kick off the new program, Striker and Reece will hold a symposium on the topic. “Health Care for All: Patient Care in Correctional Settings” will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in room 1309 at the Health Sciences Learning Center, 750 Highland Ave.

The event will include a dinner and a panel of speakers that will feature previously incarcerated people and health care providers in correctional settings. Register online