Background and objectives: Growing numbers of uninsured and underinsured individuals in the United States have resulted in increased needs for health care for medically underserved populations. Educational strategies are needed that provide opportunities for students to develop the attitudes, knowledge, and skills necessary for providing quality health care for underserved patients.
Methods: Medical students, residents, and faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School worked together to establish extracurricular opportunities for first- and second-year students to participate in medical clinics serving the poor and homeless. The process for the development and operation of a volunteer clinic is described.
Results: In the last 2 years, 163 medical students, 27 residents, and 21 faculty have provided care to more than 1,000 patients. Patients, students, residents, and faculty reported high satisfaction with the experience.
Conclusions: Medical students, residents, and faculty working in collaboration can provide increased access to care for the medically underserved. Engaging in community-oriented primary health care early in their medical education provided positive learning opportunities for medical students, especially those interested in generalist careers.