Filling a Void
UF medical students operate three student-run free clinics that each provide health-care services one night a week. While attending physicians and residents supervise the students’ work, the management of the clinic is solely in the hands of our students. The clinics provide different but complementary services. One provides acute care to some of the area’s most disadvantaged, another provides follow-up care and chronic disease control, and the more recent addition, a mobile clinic, serves the west side of the community.
I have learned a lot about the management of hypertension and the kinds of medications to prescribe. I’ve also learned more practical things like how to network with other professionals and how to find resources to get help for people.
— Mrunal Shah, third-year medical student
The unique interdisciplinary environment at UF HSC allows for our medical students to learn and work with their future colleagues from the colleges of Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Public Health and Health Professions. The clinics not only offer health care for the underserved in the county but also provide an educational experience for professional students in different health-care disciplines. Our students are able to work side-by-side with medical faculty as early as their first year of medical school, taking patients’ vitals, getting their histories and presenting to an attending physician.
Each year during spring break hundreds of UF medical students choose to provide health care to impoverished people around the world.
Students have a number of opportunities for hands-on medical experience in hospitals and clinics in developing countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Yucatan and Thailand. Students not only learn to assimilate into the culture and the practice of medicine, but they also learn medical-care customs and are able to work with medical professionals in an unfamiliar environment.
It’s a great opportunity for us to take what we learn in class and apply it. We can see things we don’t normally see both medically and socially. And we’re providing health care to people who don’t normally have access.
— Reshelle Smith, a UF medical student who led the 2009 Project Heal while in her 2nd year