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Working in Free Clinics...

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by BUmiken12, Dec 5, 2001.

  1. BUmiken12

    BUmiken12 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2001
    Waco, TX
    Okay, I'm looking to do some volunteeer work in a free clinic, but I don't wanna get stuck taking out trash and doing secretary work or something like that. Do most free clinics let pre-med students have some patient interaction or is it by chance or what? Thanks in advance...
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  3. sundevil1

    sundevil1 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2001
    Do you speak any other languages? If so, translation might be a good option. I see you are in Waco and I don't know what the hispanic (or other non-English speaking) population is like there but I translate at a homeless clinic in Phoenix and I get great patient contact. When I volunteered at the ER, they had their own translators so I got stuck cleaning beds and changing sheets so I know what ya mean. Also, try outreach programs which actually go to the communities and educate/recruit people from underserved populations. These programs might give you opportunities for good human contact without requiring any special training or knowledge.
  4. Jameson

    Jameson Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 26, 2001
    Hey BU,
    my case is kind of unique so I'm not sure this is gonna' help you with info on your avg run of the mill clinic but here it goes. I work for a county health dept in a program that promotes the prevention of STI's, pregnancies, and advocates responsible sexuality - specifically targeting males. There is a educational outreach as well as a clinical part, and while in the clinic I answer any questions that they may have, offer contraceptives, free tests, and give referals to other areas they need help in. So do I get a lot of patient contact, ya - but its not what a lot of people think of when you mention a clinic....none the less, its been a privilege to have a huge impact on the lives of my peers and those younger than myself (20). Hope this helps
  5. none

    none 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    Forget free clinics, go work at a VA Hospital!! They WILL let you do something! These places are literally designed around functioning with volunteers. I was helping to insert nasogastric tubes, giving visual accuity tests, taking EKGs, watching over psychiatric patients and a whole lot more!!
  6. postbacchus

    postbacchus Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    I do phlebotomy work and finger sticks at a free clinic. Ask them about those things. It's been GREAT experience for me.
  7. penelope

    penelope Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2001
    Free clinics are often understaffed and need all the help they can get in terms of handling their patient load. In my junior year, I did women's health counseling at a free clinic, meaning I saw patients *by myself*, even though I had practically no experience and even less training (my Spanish language background sure helped, though).

    This pre-med experience is far superior, in my opinion, to academic medical centers where an attending, a resident, a couple of nurses, a medical student, and a nursing student all swarm around one patient, while the lowly pre-med gets to refill the icewater.
  8. Amy B

    Amy B I miss my son so much Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    I have volunteered in a free clinic for 2 and 1/2 years. My duties list has grown the longer I have been there. Right now I check in patients, take thier vitals, run lab tests (check urine), draw blood from patients and from people getting tested for HIV, finger sticks for glucose and or hemoglobin, pregnancy counseling, assist the male doctors during GYN exams and administer immunizations and depo shots.

    As you can see I have a huge amount of patient one on one contact. It has been a rewarding place to volunteer and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
  9. BUmiken12

    BUmiken12 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2001
    Waco, TX
    Thanks so much for all of your responses.

    None - how long have you worked at the VA hospital?

    Penelope - how long did it take you to do this kind of work or did they start you doing all this?

    Thanks again guys!
  10. penelope

    penelope Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2001
    Believe it or not, they started me out doing that stuff, but you learn fast when you're flying by the seat of your pants! I had a little bit of prior experience doing intake and I had watched a medical assistant do an OC counseling session, so I guess that was good enough for the clinic manager who "hired" me without having met me in person. Obviously the quality of care I delivered (especially at first) wasn't the highest . . . but there was always a doctor or a medical assistant around when I had questions. Like Amy Beth, I learned a TON from the experience and would recommend it to any pre-med.

    The key to finding these opportunities is to get away from the pre-med throngs, and that can be tough in a university town. I definitely paid for my great experience in *travel time*. Not owning a car, I commuted by bus 1.5 hr each way into the neighboring city. :( And the clinic was unaffiliated with the university - our medical school's free clinic was so impacted by pre-meds that it was nearly impossible to get a position.

  11. Raja

    Raja Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 24, 2001
    How do you find free clinics? I've looked in the phone book but can't find any listings...
  12. mora225

    mora225 New Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    I've also had an awesome experience working in a free clinic...tons of patient contact, clinical experience, and a lot more responsability than I had ever imagined. I do think that being a native spanish speaker helped since 80% of our patients are hispanic.

    As for finding free clinics near you, I'd call your county's health department and ask them, they are usually a good resource.
  13. Nehama

    Nehama Junior Member

    Dec 1, 2001
    I second Raja's question-- how do you find free clinics? (i.e., what would they be listed under?)

    Hopefully I'll still be able to volunteer there even though I don't speak Spanish. My foreign language knowledge is limited to Hebrew, French, Welsh, and...Latin. Yep, very useful, I know ;)

  14. Jamier2

    Jamier2 SDN Hillbilly Moderator Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Mar 22, 2001

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