Engaging Communication: Petra Clark-Dufner Empowers UConn’s Urban Service Track Scholars Program to Provide Effective Healthcare to Diverse Populations

UConn Magazine: An Urban Health Bootcamp

Petra Clark-Dufner is an accomplished educator and the director of UConn’s Urban Service Track Scholars Program (UST) for nearly two decades. With a unique teaching approach that combines rapid-fire questioning, gentle encouragement, and humor, she keeps her students engaged and on their toes. During a session, she emphasizes the importance of assessing a patient’s feelings and using windows as a tool for deeper understanding, receiving praise from her students for her effective approach.

Clark-Dufner is deeply passionate about providing accessible health care to all, which is reflected in the UST program’s mission. The program has seen 17 cohorts of around 65 students each, with participants coming from various disciplines such as Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work, and the Quinnipiac University physician assistant program. Her students have a deep respect and admiration for her dedication to their education.

The UST program offers a diverse range of activities to enhance students’ learning experiences. These include retreats, shared readings, interprofessional learning communities, a student-alumni podcast series, and community-based clinical trainings. Students are exposed to topics such as health care financing, cultural humility, advocacy, health promotion, basic screenings, and most importantly effective communication with community members and patients.

Throughout her tenure as program director, Clark-Dufner has been instrumental in equipping future health care professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to serve diverse populations effectively. Her innovative and engaging teaching methods continue to inspire and empower students in their pursuit of providing quality health care for all.

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