When the SOAR (Student Outreach to Area Residents) Student-Run Free Clinic began providing free primary care and medication management services to uninsured and underinsured members of the community in the fall of 2016, it didn’t take long for appointments to be booked upon the Saturdays it was open. To respond to the community’s steadily growing use of its services, the Clinic has increased operations once again. Its doors are now open three Saturdays per month.
Plenty of work has gone into the increased hours. To learn more about the transition, we spoke with Madeline (Maddy) Goosmann, a third-year College of Medicine student who co-serves (along with fellow M3s Austin Hilt and Allie Garrett) as the clinical Chair of SOAR.
Why has the Clinic expanded its hours from two Saturdays to three Saturdays a month?
Maddy Goosmann: We wanted to provide more for our patients and open up more volunteer positions for the students, because it’s a place where we learn so much while we help.
How many more patient visits will be possible with three sessions per month?
MG: We currently aim for 15 patients per clinic day. With a third day we’ll be able to see 45 patients per month.
With additional dates we hope not only to add more patients, but also to be more accommodating to patients’ schedules. Additionally, we are working on forming an education team that will specialize in education about chronic diseases such as diabetes. Janet Raber, R.N., one of the PDL site leaders, has graciously given her time to educate students about insulin use and diabetes management. With her expertise, we hope to integrate education into patient visits.
How did the SOAR team prepare to expand its schedule? Behind the scenes, what went into making this happen?
MG: Expanding to another day was the best next step for the patients and for the students. We have both the patient volume and the volunteer support. The SOAR board has been working on sustainability and strategic planning. We have a great network of faculty and community members guiding us with their advice. And we have great volunteer support from students and faculty. With the help and generosity of the faculty and with the facilities being available, moving to more days was fairly seamless.
Are more students involved in SOAR, now that it has moved to three Saturdays per month?
MG: Yes, we are able to use more student volunteers with the additional day. Not only this, but we have rearranged some of the roles during the clinical encounter to allow underclassmen more responsibility. For example, M1s now lead each patient interview; M2s finish the patient history and physical; and M3s or M4s supervise.
The SOAR Student-Run Free Clinic is located in the NEOMED Education and Wellness (NEW) Center, 4211 State Route 44, Rootstown, OH 44272. For questions, contact 330.552.7080 or firstname.lastname@example.org.