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I Want to Change the World by Offering Holistic Health Care

Jazz McGinnis, MSW '17

  • Field Placement:
    University of Michigan Hospital, HIV/AIDS Treatment Program
  • Scholarship:
    Integrated Health Scholarship

"People told me as a kid that I should be a therapist," says Jazz McGinnis. "I was good at listening and making connections between people. It was that seed that led me to pursue social work as a career." After earning a BA in Sociology from the University of Oregon, Jazz worked in many community health settings, including a federally qualified health center in Portland, OR. "I've always had a passion for serving individuals from marginalized populations," Jazz says. "The last clinic I worked at provided care to people who were experiencing homelessness and/or were unstably housed. A large proportion of these folks were LGBTQ and people of color." He recalls of his clinical work, "I was a part of a primary care team that included doctors, nurse practitioners, naturopaths, social workers, medical assistants, and lab staff that delivered the holistic health care that our patients deserved. I knew that, if I wanted to be a part of a team like that as a behavioral health provider, I needed to get a social work education that taught me to be medical social worker on an interdisciplinary health care team."

Jazz chose the U-M School of Social Work for its Integrated Health Program. "I wanted the best education so that I could go out and provide the best patient care possible to the people who need it most. I was also drawn to U-M's emphasis on social workers becoming leaders within their field and who can bring an understanding of social justice and ethics to their work." Soon Jazz was doing all of this, as a U-M School of Social Work Integrated Health Scholar.

How did the School and the program work out for Jazz? "I love being here," he says. "My fellow Integrated Health Scholars are passionate about bringing our social work knowledge and perspectives to all facets of our lives. There are ten of us going through the program together. We've come to know and trust each other and care about each other's lives. We want to be change agents and empower our clients to achieve their best health and wellness. I'm thrilled my field placement is at the HIV/AIDS Treatment Program at the U-M Hospital. The social work team there ensures that patients living with HIV/AIDS know we are invested in their well-being, including feeling connected to and heard by every team member. They know they can come to us for whatever they need to stay well."

The Integrated Health Scholarship was critical to Jazz's experiences. "I would never have been able to afford coming to U-M and developing myself into a social worker without this scholarship," he says.

Jazz has a particular passion for LGBTQ health care and especially for trans health care, as he knows the hardships and marginalization that queer and trans people face as a trans man himself. "We need to work on all fronts," he says, "including housing, employment, health care and mental health-so trans people can achieve their optimal quality of life."

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