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Students Spotlight

Emily Busse, M.D./Ph.D. candidate ‘28 and Michael DiLeo, M.D./M.P.H. candidate ’26

Houston’s only student-led health clinic is a rich learning environment for Baylor students 

Home is where you feel safe. At peace. Unjudged. Comfortable. 

Those facing homelessness can find these feelings rare. They may even be judged by those who provide healthcare. This is a problem because unhoused people have unique health and social needs and disproportionately experience acute and chronic health conditions. However, lack of access to appropriate care means they often seek care in emergency departments unequipped to effectively meet their needs, or they may put off receiving critical care rather than face discrimination.  

For Baylor College of Medicine School of Medicine students Emily Busse, M.D./Ph.D. candidate ‘28, and Micheal DiLeo, M.D./M.P.H. candidate ‘26, executive directors of HOMES (Houston Outreach Medical Education & Social Services), making their patients feel heard, seen and acknowledged is critical for care. They work to foster relationships built on trust and respect, effectively encouraging their patients to remain committed to health. 

HOMES is a program of Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston (HHH), a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) promoting health, hope and dignity for those affected by homelessness through accessible and comprehensive quality care. HHH is the only FQHC in Houston exclusively dedicated to serving those experiencing housing instability, providing comprehensive medical, dental, mental and behavioral health, addiction and substance use counseling, and whole-person social services. HHH teams with the city’s medical schools — Baylor, UT Health’s McGovern School of Medicine and the University of Houston’s College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy — to provide care at Cathedral Clinic every Sunday. It is the only student-run health clinic in the city.  

In the late 1990s, graduate social work students at the University of Houston found that people experiencing unstable housing had few, if any, non-emergency healthcare options on Sundays. In response, students from Baylor, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (now UT Health) and the University of Houston partnered with HHH to found HOMES in 1999 to provide care on Sundays for a vulnerable population. In the 25 years since, thousands of medical school students have provided care for more than 5,000 patients.  

“It’s a great opportunity for students to volunteer and learn more about taking care of this population by really filling a need,” Mr. DiLeo said. 

The clinic offers medical students, under the supervision of faculty preceptors, a unique opportunity to hone their bedside skills.  

“We work with really amazing faculty who allow students to practice taking histories and providing care in a supervised manner,” Ms. Busse said.  

The students typically spend more time with their patients, providing care and building trust.  

“The extra time helps students see patients as whole people and not just a collection of symptoms,” Ms. Busse said. 

This holistic approach to care also seeks to alleviate some of the other social issues their patients may face. Twice a year, the clinic holds health fairs where patients can access additional resources like no-cost dental care, ophthalmology clinics, vaccines and housing services.   

For more information on HOMES, to donate or to volunteer as a preceptor, visit homesclinic.org