Integrated models of education and service involving community-based health care for underserved populations: Tulane student-run free clinics

South Med J. 2013 Mar;106(3):217-23. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e318287fe9a.


Objectives: Throughout the United States numerous models of local programs, including student-run clinics, exist to address the issue of access to care. The role of these clinics in serving the local community and contributing to medical education has been documented only in limited detail, however. The purpose of this article is to describe the clinic models, patient demographics, and services provided by four student-run clinics in New Orleans.

Methods: This is a retrospective, multisite chart review study of adult patients examined at student-run clinics between January 1, 2010 and July 31, 2011.

Results: During a 19-month period, 859 patients collectively were seen at the clinics, for a total of 1455 visits. The most common reasons for seeking care were medication refills (21.6%) and musculoskeletal pain (12.0%). Counseling and health education were provided primarily for smoking cessation (9.0%), diabetes management (7.1%), and hypertension management (5.8%). Nearly one-fifth of patients were given a referral to primary care services. In the 2010-2011 academic year, 87.6% of preclinical medical students volunteered at ≥1 of these clinics and spent 4508 hours during 1478 shifts.

Conclusions: This article highlights the role of student-run clinics in the community, the safety-net healthcare system, and medical education. Future directions include the establishment of a new clinic, fundraising, and prospective studies to further assess the impact of student-run clinics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / organization & administration*
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New Orleans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Students, Medical*
  • Volunteers*
  • Vulnerable Populations*