What is Trojan Trainer?

  • A unique, student-led program mentored by Keck School of Medicine of USC Street Medicine Team
  • Each student team (2 PA student and 2 Medical students) is paired with a trainer (patient of the Street Medicine Team)
  • Students build rapport with their trainer and help them accomplish personal goals whether it be to find a PCP, set up an appointment, find resources/services, etc.
  • Trainers provide insight into what it is like to be someone experiencing homelessness trying to navigate the healthcare system, maintain their health, and overcome daily challenges

Student Goals

  1. Provide an opportunity for students from different medical professions to engage in the implementation of a care plan for a person experiencing unsheltered homelessness in a longitudinal experience.
  2. Explore and appreciate the social determinants of health that contribute to the mortality and morbidity of the unsheltered homeless population.
  3. Foster an appreciation for the complex interaction between the health care, social service and civil service systems in the interdisciplinary care of the unsheltered homeless population.
  4. Allow for students to explore reflective practice as a resiliency-building tool for the healthcare workforce.
  5. Support the development of effective communication with patients experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
  6. Encourage empathy and advocacy for vulnerable populations through a longitudinal, immersive and directed experience.

Student Participant Quotes

“If we may define a disaster as a time when the needs of a community outweigh its resources, homelessness here in LA can be considered a prolonged disaster with devastating effects on the lives of close to 60,000 of our neighbors. To create impactful, sustainable solutions, we need to educate ourselves on the structural barriers at the foundation of homelessness and then work to reduce or eliminate them. Trojan Trainers is a start to that – aiming to shift the focus of medical education from a traditional academic curriculum to an emphasis on what our patients require future providers, such as myself, to learn.” MS2, 2020


“One memory stood out to me was when I visited a trainer who paints her own calendar on the metallic pillars of the bridge she resides under, using it and a magnet to keep track of the days and her appointments. Her creativity inspires me to also think outside the box and use available resources when partnering with my future patients.”  PA-S1, 2020


“Volunteering in Trojan Trainer during COVID-19 has been the most humbling and inspiring experience I have had as a medical student. [It] has challenged my perception of homelessness and given me a much broader understanding of the day-to-day challenges that those struggling with homelessness must overcome every single day. Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to better understand how access to reliable food, water, transportation, and other necessities affects our Trojan Trainer’s health and well-being.” – MS1