Student-Run Free Clinics
Medical School Class of 2021
The Community Action Research Tract (CART) has allowed me to combine two things that I am passionate about – volunteering in the student-run free clinics (SRFCs) and research. The CART has given me tools to conduct community-based participatory research and allows me to develop ideas for improving patient care with the interests of the community as the top priority. Since joining the CART program I have participated on several projects that seek to improve the Student-Run Free Clinics (SRFCs). These projects have been designed at evaluating interprofessional education opportunities in the SRFCs, determining the economic and medical impact of the SRFCs, and improving the Medical Student Manager leadership experience.
Student-Run Free Clinics
Over the past two years I have been passionate about volunteer service in the SRFCs. The Medical Student Manager experience has been one of my most rewarding experiences in medical school. UT Southwestern collaborates with five community partners to help provide medical services for the medically underserved at six clinic sites. Five groups of medical students help coordinate the SRFCs with our community partners and come together through the Free Clinic Committee (FCC). Serving as a member of the FCC helped me see how each clinic operated differently and look for ways to spread ideas from one successful clinic to another.
While serving as a Medical Student Manager at the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) Medical Clinics, I learned so much not only about the most common health conditions affecting the homeless, but also about the difficulties in health care delivery to this very transient patient population. I believe this experience also gave me a unique insight into the Parkland Financial Assistance program and its application process.
Having this knowledge helps me connect patients with additional health resources they might not otherwise have been able to access.
Interprofessional Education in the SRFCs
While participating in the CART program, I have been a member of a team that is investigating the interests and willingness of health professions students to volunteer in the SRFCs as part of interdisciplinary teams. Currently limited interprofessional education opportunities exist in the SRFCs. The current model at the UGM Medical Clinics involves teams of pharmacy, physician assistant, and medical students that interview patients together and have guided learning at the end of the clinic.
In our project we have surveyed students from many different disciplines, such as nursing, physical therapy, and nutrition and dietetics, to identify possible barriers to volunteering, and possible opportunities where they can be utilized most effectively. We have found that students are interested, but are limited in participation by required supervision and insurance coverage.
From this project we have identified possible avenues for incorporating other health professions students in the teams at other clinics in addition to the UGM Medical Clinics.
Medical and Economic Impact of SRFCs
The SRFCs and their community partners provide minor acute care to the medically underserved of the Dallas community for no cost or are only donation based. In a six-month period, these clinics have several thousand patient visits and contribute significantly to the health of our community. The medical and economic impact of the services provided at these clinics has not been thoroughly evaluated.
Currently this project involves a team of students and faculty completing systematic reviews of patient encounters from a six month period and assigning medical billing codes based on the level of services provided. Based on common codes for the conditions treated and the total of the cost of services provided, the medical and economic impact of the SRFCs can be estimated.
– Logan Mills, Medical School Class of 2021