(Includes excerpts from the PE article written by Mark Muckenfuss)
At the UC Riverside Student-Run Health Clinic – a free clinic held every other Wednesday at the First Congregational Church in downtown Riverside - residents not able to afford traditional healthcare services are offered check-ups and chronic disease management. The undergraduate volunteers observe or perform administrative tasks. Local physician volunteers serve as advisers, either approving or modifying the treatments proposed by the students.
Students receive a briefing at the UCR Student-Run Health Clinic. Photo by Stan Lim, PE staff.
Most medical schools are connected with student-run clinics, but UCR’s, which started in 2004, is larger and provides more types of care than most, according to the doctors who oversee it. Currently, the student volunteers are first and second year undergraduates enrolled in UCR’s Haider Program, a cooperative venture with UCLA in which spend their final two years of study at UCLA.
When UCR’s new medical school opens this fall, it will increase the potential pool of student volunteers and those involved expect it to expand.
Dr. Paul Lyons, senior associate dean of education for UCR’s School of Medicine, is one of the physicians overseeing the clinic.
“We take care of a variety of acute complaints such as sinus infection, or a cold or if they have belly pain,” Lyons said. “We do not have access to any radiology but we do have access to labs. The second big category (is) the management of chronic disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure. At least half of our visits are for management of chronic disease.”
The clinic grew out of a food assistance program that has been operating at First Congregational Church for nearly 30 years. Richard Wing, a former UCR chemistry professor, said many of that program’s volunteers were medical students. He and his wife, Donna, a registered nurse, thought it would be a good idea if the students could volunteer at something more in line with what they were studying.
They started on a shoestring with a couple of volunteer physicians overseeing the clinic. Now, about 50 medical students and an equal number of undergrads staff the clinic, along with 10 volunteer doctors. Only a portion of those staff the clinic on any given night, seeing between 50 and 60 patients. A modest annual budget of $15,000 to $20,000 covers equipment and supplies, Wing said. Most of that money comes from grants from local and national health foundations.
In the past few years the clinic has added a pharmacy, operated mostly by volunteer students from Loma Linda University Medical School, and dental care, provided by volunteer dental students from Pomona’s Western University.
UCR’s Lyons, who established a student-run clinic during the time he was at Temple University, said the Riverside clinic is more extensive than most.
“This is a pretty large and ambitious program,” he said. “This is not just health screening. It’s not just a health fair. It’s run through the summer and over most breaks. Really, it only takes a week off over the winter holiday break.”
With the opening of UCR’s School of Medicine this fall, Lyons and others expect the clinic may grow. There is even discussion about finding larger, more quarters in or near the downtown area.
Exemplifying Riverside’s innovative approach to improving the common good of the community, the UC Riverside Student-Run health clinic creates opportunities for its undergraduate students and local doctors to connect with and improve the lives of Riversiders that may not otherwise have these healthcare choices.
To read the full article written by Mark Muckenfuss and published on PE.com, click here.