What are Student Run Free Clinics?
Student-run free clinics are the perfect platform for rising healthcare professionals to get direct exposure to the reality of underprivileged communities.
Apoorva Sudini - Newsletter Director
In the face of the current pandemic, the rampant thoughts have not only been “did I test positive?” but also “can I afford to test positive?” Healthcare costs have been on the rise since 1960, with America more than tripling the percentage of its GDP that is being contributed to healthcare. A major factor driving this expenditure has been the physical price of healthcare services, which has grown faster than the costs for any other goods or services within the economy. In an attempt to circumvent these financial worries, the free clinic model has grown positively to serve the medically underserved.
In particular, there has been an emergence of student-run free clinics. These establishments are run under a collaborative between faculty and students in the healthcare professions. This provides the perfect platform for rising healthcare professionals to get direct exposure to the reality of underprivileged communities. The age-old narrative has revolved around improving the health and well-being of the underserved and such student-run initiatives have been instrumental in moving our healthcare system into a more rewarding light. Student volunteers staff these clinics to deliver comprehensive, community-based medical care. Such services include primary care, specialty services, psychiatric and counseling services, preventive medicine, patient education, labs, imaging and medications. One of the hallmarks of such care is to truly uphold the tenet that medicine is not a privilege, but a basic human right.
One of the hallmarks of such care is to truly uphold the tenet that medicine is not a privilege, but a basic human right.
Surveys have been regularly carried out in an attempt to assess the quality of such establishments around the country. When comparing the first evaluation in 2005 with the most recent one in 2014, we can note a significant increase in the number of clinics run under medical institutions from 52% to 75.2%, respectively. While both the educational values and community impacts are tremendous, clinics face a multitude of problems primarily with staffing and funding. These pose as huge hindrances to the integration of various initiatives such as needle-exchange programs, planned parenthood services, stimulus checks, COVID-19 screenings and much more. While we want to lower the financial burden of medical care, we also want to ensure that the quality is not compromised in doing so. Let’s hope that through NCC greater support can be shown to these clinics in an effort to bridge the gap in access to our basic human right.
“Why Are Americans Paying More for Healthcare?” Peter G. Peterson Foundation, www.pgpf.org/blog/2020/04/why-are-americans-paying-more-for-healthcare#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20the%20United%20States,to%2018%20percent%20in%202018.
Society of Student Run Free Clinics. www.studentrunfreeclinics.org/.
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