Volunteering/shadowing at free clinics

There have been a number of posts from members looking for shadowing opportunities that fit in their schedules. If your community has a local free clinic in the evenings, please consider it, especially if you’re bilingual. Earlier this week I was the attending doc at our student-run women’s clinic, and we had five women in the waiting room who spoke no English. One was 36 weeks gestation with no previous prenatal care. Fortunately our resourceful students got on their phones and recruited two bilingual classmates who saved the day. But regardless of that, ANY volunteering you can do with a similar clinic is always appreciated, is tremendously rewarding, and will give you an opportunity to connect with physicians, without interfering with your “day job.” Other ideas or anecdotes?

As I have posted previously, I work at a free clinic in Chicago, and find it IMMENSELY rewarding, and fantastic experience. I am fluent in Spanish, so work as a Spanish medical translator, which means I get great patient-contact experience. I am right there in the exam room, translating everything that gets said doctor-to-patient and patient-to-doctor. I have learned so much about diseases (especially diabetes, which is a huge issue in the Latino population), bedside manner, and everything in between.

But the clinic where I work also has great opportunities for people who don’t speak another language – triage volunteers (to take vitals – yes, they TEACH you to take vitals!) and lab volunteers (again, they TEACH you to draw blood and give vaccines etc.!).

I wholeheartedly agree with jmdmd that this is a great experience, whether you can work in the evenings, or during the day between classes (which is what I do).

I’ve also made some great contacts with physicians, one of which has developed into a shadowing experience at a local ICU. So you never know who you are going to meet – it’s all a process of putting yourself out there in the medical community.

I have shadowed at a free medical clinic that is on a converted bus. That experience was invaluable.

For those of you who live in NC - the name of the clinic is WATCH mobile unit.

If anyone is in the Los Angeles, you can go to csmc.org and look up the Independent Student Volunteer Program.

Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions!

Thank you for this! I was always concerned that contacting a free clinic for volunteer opportunities would just add to their long list of responsibilities. I love OPM!