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“Voices of the Uninsured,” receives award

A poster titled “Voices and Concerns of the Uninsured & Underinsured Millions” (VACUUM), received first place (Community Service division) at the 2010 American Medical Student Association (AMSA) national conference, held in Anaheim, Cal. between March 11-14. The project emerged as an extension of an audio recording project by OHSU medical students during the 2009 “Cover the Uninsured Week.” 

Named “Voices of the Uninsured,” the 2009 project, headed by OHSU medical student Jim Stier, recorded the experiences of people with no medical insurance or who were under-insured, and compiled them into an audio archive. 

Student co-authors on the poster were: Richard Bruno, B.A., Allen Andrews, M.P.H, M.Phil , Brian Garvey, B.A. , David Sanders, B.A., B.S. , Ilana Weinbaum, B.A. , Maliheh Nakhai, B.A. , Jaleh Olson, B.A. and Rajarshi Mazumder, B.S. Paul Gorman, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology, acted as faculty advisor.

“We looked at the tremendous work that Jim had done, and proposed expanding it to video and hosting it on a dedicated Web site,” said VACUUM project co-coordinator and first-year MD class president, Richard Bruno. In addition to providing access to the student-led interviews, the “wiki-style" Web page will allow uninsured patients and those who provide care for the uninsured to tell their stories by uploading video, audio, or text. A montage of some of the stories is available already at:

The award-wining VACUUM poster described the current status of the project and proposed employing a qualitative-analysis of the data to determine if the project influenced or did not influence a shift in attitudes toward health reform in the medical students who conducted the interviews.

“We were surprised and humbled to receive this recognition,” said Bruno. “It is estimated that 44,000 Americans die every year through being uninsured, and we hope that this project can help bring this sobering data to the attention of policy makers and legislators.”

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