In addition to the core curriculum, residents have opportunities for involvement in several unique community service activities.
Charlottesville Free Clinic
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 services Charlottesville and surrounding counties. It provides free care and medications to working, resource-limited patients and others 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.
Kasey Little, PGY-3, is one of our residents who has been very involved in our Free Clinic.
The patients are exceedingly grateful. Working at the Free Clinic is a reminder to me that being a doctor is ultimately about choosing a life of service to others.
I’ve really enjoyed volunteering at the free clinic. I’ve committed to doing it one evening per month, and while I will admit that I am often tired from my day when I show up, I always leave energized. The free clinic fills a unique niche in the community for patients who are under-resourced but still make too much money or have too many assets to qualify for Medicaid or free/reduced cost care at UVA. I’ve been amazed by the diversity of backgrounds and stories that I’ve seen and heard at the free clinic. The clinic itself is quite robust, offering subspecialty services, mental health care, and dental care. Once I became a PGY-2, I was able to work there independently, seeing patients and diagnosing and treating them on my own, without the oversight or influence of an attending. This is kind of an intellectual challenge and thrill and gives a taste of what life might be like in my future practice. There are many other UVA physicians who volunteer at the clinic, as well as others from the community. I frequently run into Dr. Nadkarni, now Chief of General Medicine at UVA and a preceptor at our resident continuity clinic, who co-founded this clinic when he was a UVA resident in 1992.
Some residents volunteer to participate in the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Clinic 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.