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Creighton medical students partner with Red Cloud Indian School science classes

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PINE RIDGE, S.D. - At Red Cloud, being of service to the community is at the heart of education. Since generosity is a virtue in Lakota culture it's a natural fit. Recently, Red Cloud students were the beneficiaries of the Asniya (''to heal'') Program, a health and science education outreach that partners Red Cloud with medical students from Omaha, Neb.-based Creighton University.

The program recognizes that students are members of the local community and seeks to provide them with basic health knowledge. They, in turn, can become advocates for healthy life choices in their homes and communities. ''This program has been a part of the school for the past three years and the program has really enhanced our student's health curriculum,'' said superintendent Bob Brave Heart. ''The medical students do hands-on work, letting our students study and work with actual organs like a brain, eyes or a heart. The students learn about health and also learn about organ donor programs.''

The Asniya Program is part of the Project Creighton Medical Students United in Relief Assistance, or CURA, one of the many venues for Creighton medical students to experience, learn and practice the human aspect of medical care. Though immersion itineraries vary, a common element involves students traveling to their respective locales to interact within the local culture. In addition to travel to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the program will take Creighton medical students to Peru, Ghana, Southeast Asia, Romania and India. Ten medical students traveled to the Red Cloud campus to spend their spring break week participating in the Asniya Program.

''Creighton's philosophy is rooted in the Jesuit principles of magis [''the more''] and cura personalis [''care for the whole person'']. I am confident that a medical education through Creighton, given these principles and my application to them, will lead me to become the kind of physician I hope to be. I hope I can be generous of my time, focus, and attention in the care - both physical and personal - of my patients,'' said Mike Long, a Creighton medical student who organized the trip to Red Cloud.

''I had previously spent time on the Pine Ridge. This time, in a trip of one week, none of us expected to come away from the Pine Ridge experience having mastered an understanding of Lakota culture or the nuances of life on a reservation. However, the uniqueness of that community, its struggles related to health care and the complexity of possible solutions to them did become apparent.

''It was good for us to spend time listening, learning, watching and reflecting throughout our week. This trip was one more valuable learning experience in our medical education at Creighton. I can say confidently that each of the members saw the need for one's personal sincere investment in providing medical care to patients in context to their community. Future service to our patients will thereby surely be enhances.''

The Asniya Program is one of the ways that caring and sharing continue to be a way of life at Red Cloud. The Creighton students touched the lives of many students through their classroom demonstrations and lessons on health.