In addition to the planned curriculum, residents are involved in several unique community service activities.
Many residents volunteer to participate in the held in Wise, Virginia, five hours from Charlottesville in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. This University-supported activity provides health care to underserved populations who come to the annual clinic from a 4-5 state area. Services include mammography, colon cancer screening, retinal screening via telemedicine technology, and some gynecological procedures. Comprehensive screening for diabetes and hypertension was a special focus at a recent clinic. Each year, more than 250 UVA Health System volunteers provide care to more than 1,000 patients over the three-day event.
Volunteering allows me to give back to the
community and use my training and knowledge in a productive way.
“Coming from a third world country, I never thought that any part of the U.S. would lack medical care and expertise. After living here and experiencing rural areas of the country, I’ve come to understand that some areas lack physicians and resources to take care of patients. Throughout medical school, I volunteered in free clinics and enjoyed it. Meeting and helping patients who otherwise would not be able to see a physician is gratifying, and making an immediate impact and difference in patients' lives is a worthwhile endeavor.
Most patients who attend the Charlottesville Free Clinic come from rural areas of Virginia and are stretching every dollar they make. Many of the patients I’ve met work at least two jobs and some are migrant workers who have risked everything to make a better life for themselves and their families. Contributing several hours of my time monthly is a small sacrifice compared to their daily struggles. I enjoy the fact that our residency program allows us to volunteer during outpatient electives if we opt to do so. I also love that our local free clinic was founded by internal medicine residents, which speaks volumes about the program and the dedication of our people. Time spent at the clinic can increase your comfort level with patients and reinforce your knowledge. Working independently is a refreshing experience and developing your patients' care plan reinforces lessons learned at UVA. I started volunteering at the clinic as an intern. My outpatient firm attending introduced me to it and helped me learn the ropes. Since then I’ve been attending the general medicine free clinic and recently started also attending the allergy/immunology clinic. The knowledge that I’m helping others while honing my medical skills is well worth the time I give.”
The Charlottesville Free Clinic was founded in 1992 by two University of Virginia Internal Medicine residents. Many residents volunteer at this non-profit clinic that provides free care and medications to the working poor population of Charlottesville and surrounding counties and other patients who "fall through the cracks" of the health care system. Since the clinic's inception, many Internal Medicine Residents have taken major roles in both provision of medical care and administrative functions such as medical directorship.