Just recently, as a clinic team, we were writing handwritten thank you cards to all our donors of the free clinic (running a free clinic is quite expensive even with completely volunteer labor!). While admittedly the cards were somewhat of a “thank-you-for-donating-please-donate again”, it was also truly a great way to thank donors and think back to how much it’s impacted my medical school experience. So here are some things about what makes the free clinic so great + what I’ve learned over the year:
- Running a clinic efficiently and on time is incredibly difficult. When talking with a patient, time seems to go by so quickly and it can be hard to keep appointments to the times allotted.
- It takes a lot of time (or people in the case of medical students) to keep a clinic running. Our leadership team has 17 people on it! When I had initially heard the number of people on the leadership team, I had to wonder, was there really enough work for 17 people to do? Surprisingly – the answer is yes. We’ve even considered adding additional leadership positions to handle the workload. Even now I do not know all the details of each position – but I do know that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes.
- There’s also a fair bit of random things to operating a clinic that I had never even considered before to running a clinic too. Soap, blood pressure cuffs, custom-made appointment cards, stool sample cups, hemoglobin A1C cartridges? I didn’t even know what of some of things were prior to ordering to them – it was surprising to me the number of medical things you can purchase online. Thank goodness for Amazon!
- While we certainly can do more now than at the beginning of the year, it is somewhat neat how much pre-clinical students can do even only months into medical school. UMSRFC has been great in offering early exposure – the system of pairing one clinical student with a pre-clinic student definitely helps.
- The hurdles to attaining care are extremely high for economically disadvantaged individuals.
I unconsciously tend to think of the medical experience from a physician’s point of view – whether an accurate diagnosis was given, were good doctoring skills utilized, whether the physician seemed empathetic. But in reality, a patient’s perspective is influenced by the healthcare system as a whole including how well and smoothly a clinic is run. Working as part of the UMSRFC has given me a new appreciation for how much goes on outside of the patient-doctor interaction. It truly takes a lot outside work from many people with diverse skill sets to provide high quality care.
Joy, a native Ann Arborite, is a rising fourth-year medical student at University of Michigan Medical School. In her spare time, she enjoys working on quality improvement issues in cardiac surgery, playing violin in the U-M Life Sciences Orchestra, and hanging out with friends.