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After only 11 weeks in medical school, I had the opportunity to represent the University of Michigan Student-Run Free Clinic at a fully-funded conference in Minneapolis. A team of us, including two faculty from the School of Nursing, a physician from the Medical School and a fellow M1 clinic director, attended the “Accelerating Interprofessional Community-Based Education and Practice” conference as part of a grant awarded to the School of Nursing, the Medical School and SRFC. This was a “working” conference, where we could meet other teams who received the same grant and refine our implementation and evaluation design.

The Michigan Health Interprofessional Education (M-HIPE) Team!

The Michigan Health Interprofessional Education (M-HIPE) Team!

As one of the only remaining safety-net providers in Livingston County for uninsured and underinsured residents, we saw a need to expand clinic hours beyond Saturdays and increase the types of services we offer. With funding from this grant, medical and nurse practitioner students expanded our clinic hours to include Wednesday afternoons and evenings, and implemented a model where medical and NP students work together on clinical teams. This is an exciting time for the clinic because we are expanding partnerships with not only the School of Nursing, but also the School of Dentistry and College of Pharmacy.

While I was initially unsure of my ability to contribute at this conference after only being a co-director of the clinic for a few weeks, I eventually had two realizations. First, I could leverage my past experiences volunteering at a free clinic in college, working for a federally qualified health center after graduating, and participating in various types of research to contribute different ideas and perspectives. Second, I realized my feelings toward this conference echoed my feelings toward the start of my medical training. A lot of medicine is learning on-the-job and doing things before I feel fully ready. This includes learning to take a quiz when I have not reviewed every detail of every lecture, perform a physical exam on a standardized patient when I’ve only performed it once before, and present a differential diagnosis to an attending when the only organ system I’ve learned is the heart. Despite my uneasiness, I am reassured that I’m learning and growing as long as I remain a little uncomfortable.

This conference was the first time I’ve represented Michigan Medical School in any capacity. While wearing a block “M” – that I swear everyone could see from a mile away – I realized how proud I am to be a part of this community. I’m incredibly thankful to the Medical School administration and faculty that allowed me to attend free of charge, miss three days of school in the middle of our cardiology sequence, and pursue my passion!

If you want to learn more about Accelerating Interprofessional Education, click here: https://nexusipe.org/accelerating

Amy is a first-year medical student from the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s passionate about health equity, community-based health, the beauty of Nichol’s Arboretum, and Blank Slate’s ice cream.