Student Run Health Care for North End Residents

Thanks to funding from the Tolkien Trust, WISH Clinic students offer holistic health care to the North End community.

Students and faculty in various faculties at the U of M have joined together with health-care professionals to offer patient-centered health care to one of Winnipeg’s poorest communities.

The Winnipeg Interprofessional Student-Run Health (WISH) Clinic is operated out of Mount Carmel Clinic in Winnipeg’s North End. It is an interdisciplinary initiative involving students and licensed professional mentors from various disciplines, including Dental Hygiene, Dentistry, Dietetics, Medical Rehabilitation, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Psychology and Social Work.

“The WISH Clinic serves a community that has many health needs, with higher rates of diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases, among other conditions,” says Anne Durcan, assistant professor, Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine. “The community also struggles with poverty and many of the realities that come with it, such as poor housing, job and food insecurity. To address these challenges this neighbourhood is home to a number of promising initiatives, including the WISH Clinic where many people are working to develop a strong and healthy community environment.”

Members of the community have come to know the students and staff at the WISH Clinic and value the clinic’s presence in the North End. In fact, there is more demand for student participation than the physical resources allow. 

The WISH Clinic doors opened in March 2009 to offer Point Douglas residents warm food, a supportive environment, as well as health information and services. And through valuable relationships with WISH Clinic clientele, U of M students have gained an understanding of the life situations many people face.

“Becoming involved with this clinic has truly been a rewarding experience,” said WISH Clinic Executive Student Co-Chair Mark Allan, a third-year Pharmacy student. “We all have gained so much from spending time in the community and getting to know the people of Point Douglas.”

 “Working with other students from various disciplines has opened our eyes to the many facets of care provision. We are grateful for the ability to work together as a team and to learn together as a team,” said WISH Clinic Executive Student Co-Chair Kerrie Abel, a fourth year student in the Faculty of Social Work.

Thanks to a $110,000 commitment from the Tolkien Trust of over six years, the WISH Clinic will continue helping clients until at least 2015.

The Tolkien Trust has played an important role in the WISH clinic from the beginning. In 2006, it lent its support to the family of Alan Klass to develop the Alan Klass Memorial Program for Health Equity in the Faculty of Medicine. This program funded a review that led to faculty support for the inner-city student run health clinic. Over the next three summers, the Tolkien Trust funded students to develop a proposal for the WISH Clinic. Students quickly suggested that an interdisciplinary project would best meet the diverse needs of the community.

“The WISH Clinic has provided us with a unique experience that will only benefit us as we move forward into our professional careers. We are grateful to the Tolkien Trust for their support,” says WISH Clinic Executive Student Co-Chair Ashley Walus, a third year Pharmacy student.

Operated out of Mount Carmel Clinic in Winnipeg’s North End, the WISH Clinic is a partnership between the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Medicine, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Mount Carmel Clinic.

About the Tolkien Trust

The Tolkien Trust is a charitable foundation established by the family of the late J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings. The trustees, including Christopher Tolkien, son and literary executor of J.R.R. Tolkien, and his wife, Baillie Tolkien, daughter of Alan Klass, wish to honour the kinship and common values of J.R.R. Tolkien and Alan Klass through their support of the Winnipeg Interdisciplinary Student-run Health (WISH) Clinic and the Alan Klass Memorial Program for Health Equity.

J.R.R. Tolkien was orphaned at age 12 and grew up under difficult financial circumstances. His education at King Edward's School and Exeter College in England was supported by provisions at these schools for needy students.

Alan Klass’s family emigrated from Imperial Russia to Winnipeg in 1914 and for many years teetered on the brink of poverty. He was sixth in a line of eight children and the first to gain a university education (BA/27, MD/32, University of Manitoba). He was ever grateful to his family and community for the support that afforded him this education.

Alan Klass stood for social justice in medicine for his patients, his students and the broader community. For the Tolkien Trust, the WISH Clinic embodies the principle of selfless devotion to patient needs so valued by Alan Klass and J.R.R. Tolkien.


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