Posted on: December 21, 2021; Updated on: December 21, 2021
Melissa Weisberg, a medical student at Greenville Medical School, knew at 14 that she wanted to be a doctor. Now, as a sophomore medical student, she has already been able to work directly with patients by volunteering at the Greenville Free Medical Clinic.
“I really appreciate what the free clinic does,” Weisberg says. “A lot of healthcare is provided in free clinics all over the country… so I knew as soon as I heard about the free clinic that I wanted to participate. ”
The Greenville Free Medical Clinic has served residents for 34 years. With four locations, the clinic’s mission is to promote well-being through quality primary medical care. Services are provided free of charge to eligible uninsured residents of Greenville County and include dental care, medical care, health education, and prescription drugs.
Student volunteers at Greenville School of Medicine do reception work, take vital signs, triage patients, and perform other necessary tasks. A student council organizes and manages the voluntary effort of the school.
Weisberg and Kathleen Hill are student council members and volunteered at the clinic during their first year of medical school. Hill, now a sophomore medical student, is from Greenville and attended the University of South Carolina for her undergraduate studies.
Volunteering at the Free Clinic gives you experience, and it also reminds you why you want to become a doctor.
Melissa Weisberg. 2nd year medical student
“When I got here I knew I loved this kind of experience and wanted to get involved. “
Greenville School of Medicine is the first in the country to require first-year medical students to take an EMT training course leading to certification. Students spend 12 hours per month serving the community as paramedics. Student volunteers must be EMT certified to work directly on reading patient charts, writing medical information, triage the patient, and finding out why they came.
“It’s really hands-on and involved, which is amazing,” says Hill. “It’s nice to be able to walk into the clinical setting and remember why you got there in the first place. ”
Common problems seen in clinic patients are high blood pressure and diabetes. Hill says diet can help alleviate these problems and that another student-led volunteer initiative – Greenville Health Food Market – is getting clinic patients to get fruits and vegetables for the week.
The student council works hard to recruit and train new student volunteers. The experience of the experiment benefits both the students and the community at large.
“Volunteering at the Free Clinic gives you experience and also reminds you of why you want to become a doctor,” Weisberg explains.
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Subjects: students, experiential learning, health sciences, careers, medicine (Greenville)