Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Naomi Rogers

Second Advisor

Mariola Espinosa


Medical Students in the Mountains: The Appalachian Summer Projects of the Student Health Coalition and the Student American Medical Association Sudipa Sarkar (sponsored by Mariola Espinosa, Section of the History of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT) Appalachia has drawn a number of initiatives within its borders over the course of its history as a region, but not all of these initiatives were geared towards meeting the needs of the Appalachian people. In the summer of 1969, two groups of medical students, one called the Student Health Coalition (SHC) and the other from the Student American Medical Association (SAMA), tried to impact health care in Appalachia. The purpose of this paper is to explain why the two groups chose to conduct summer projects there. Several factors were at play: the late 1960s saw a renewed national focus on Appalachia, as demonstrated by War on Poverty legislation passed during Lyndon Johnsons administration that specifically targeted the area. Moreover, there was a national trend towards social activism among medical students at the time, as evinced by the Summer Health Projects of the Student Health Organization. The SHC and the SAMA groups experienced hurdles during their first Appalachian summer projects that occurred because of unfamiliarity with the region as well as with the needed measures for the proper delivery of health care, for example, regarding patient follow up. Nonetheless, there is evidence that both groups were able to effect some benefit in the communities that they visited.


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