Student Run Clinic
Since the first students arrived at the AU/UGA Medical Partnership in 2010, they were very interested in developing a student-run clinic that could provide care for underserved patients in the Athens area. Realizing that the most successful clinic would involve collaborating with an existing organization, the students were delighted to create a partnership with Mercy Health Center in the winter of 2011. Medical Partnership student coordinators are responsible for coordinating the schedule for each clinic, which includes confirming both student volunteers and clinical faculty, who provide primary care for the patients.
This relationship has given students from the Medical Partnership an excellent clinical and community service experience that has greatly affected their view of patient care. Originally open only two evenings a month, the student clinic is now a well-functioning teaching clinic allowing the students and faculty physicians to provide care every Wednesday night.
"This clinic has been my favorite medical school experience, and it is because of all the wonderful people who have come together to make it possible."
— Amy Martin, Class of 2014
"The student-run clinic provided a needed oasis during the middle of intense medical training. In the midst of reading, studying, and all things academia, the clinic allowed me to gain a renewed perspective on why I am in medical school. Regardless of my competency in medicine, I could definitely see that patient care is still our main objective. Helping patients through tough medical and financial situations is and will always be our call as physicians. The patients believe they are receiving all of the benefits, but I know that the opportunity to practice clinical skills and learn will certainly provie invaluable to may career. I am thankful that the student-run clinic realigned my perspective."
— Clay Hartley, Class of 2015, Moultrie, GA
"Medical school affords little time for any activity besides studying. When the proposition of being able to see real patients in my first year came up, I was naturally excited. The experience came with a three-hour time commitment on our only afternoon off. I attended my assigned session with apprehension, but also a lot of excitement. Upon arriving, I found a very well organized and efficient clinic. The Mercy Health Center staff were very personable, and it was great to see our faculty who are physicians put into practice what they taught the class only weeks earlier. The patients were great and very appreciative. It was a relief to know they would not judge us for our nervousness or missteps. Oh - and that time commitment I was worried about? I decided to stay an hour and a half longer than required! It is rare to be in a position to positively influence a person's life that you are meeting for the first time. Although I was there to help the patients at the clinic, the inspiration to continue to grind through the rigors of medical school routine far surpassed any care I provided that day."
— Brian Brewer, Class of 2015, Lilburn, GA
In their own words
The medical students at the AU/UGA Medical Partnership are truly honored and grateful to have the opportunity to serve the underserved community through their own clinic held at the local Mercy Health Center (MHC). Begun in the spring of 2011, the clinic is held every Wednesday evening and involves student volunteers, Medical Partnership and community physicians, MHC staff and other community volunteers.
While it might appear that the Athens underserved are the greatest beneficiaries from the clinic, the medical students might claim this title. It is during this time that first and second year medical students - spending most of their time in didactic learning - have the opportunity to get valuable hands-on clinical training. It is an opportunity to practice taking a blood pressure measurement, checking a patient’s blood sugar, taking a good patient history, and many other aspects of clinical practice. The learning experience, however, is secondary to the patients and their care.
Although Mercy Health Center is a free clinic, its staff and volunteers strive to provide the best care possible. Every patient deserves dignity, privacy and respect, as well as competent and compassionate medical care. We, the AU/UGA student clinic managers, believe that patients receive this type of care on Wednesday nights.
During our clinics, we have the opportunity to get to know patients through taking their medical history. Oftentimes, physicians don’t have a tremendous amount of time to sit down with their patients and have a lengthy conversation about each person’s medical history. As medical students, we have the chance to learn and grow from each and every patient we see.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with a Mercy patient of ten years named Evelyn. She shared with us that she enjoyed having medical students at the clinic because “they’re real friendly, and they can help talk to you and provide you with some information that you don’t have. They just help when you need help.” She went on to share that “with this clinic, the students are very friendly. At other clinics, they don’t take time like the students do here. The students spend more time trying to help me understand… You can talk to them and say things to them that they won’t repeat. I love to come.”
Every patient helps each medical student become a better doctor in the future. By sharing their personal story with us, we are able to develop our knowledge about illness, disease, and other situations that impact a person’s well-being. Evelyn feels that “it’s real good that we (the patients) can help y’all out. A lot of people – and I’m not talking about the MHC patients – want to let students do nothing for them, but we know we need y’all, and y’all need us too.”
Our conversation with Evelyn concluded with her advising us to “keep doing what you’re doing. Keep being friendly to people. Listen to what we (the patients) have to tell y’all.”
From speaking with other patients during clinics, Evelyn is not alone in her belief that good bedside manner is paramount to clinical care. Our curriculum at the Medical Partnership stresses the importance of clinical skills and patient-centered care and seems to attract students interested in service to others. As long as the students of the Medical Partnership are here in Athens, we will continue to serve the underserved population and the community as a whole.
— Courtney Rabon, class of 2015 from Athens, GA (pictured above right), Russell Ledford, class of 2016 from Houston, TX (pictured above left), Wesley Bryson from Rome, GA, and Rocco Cannistraro from Westport, MA.