Community Service

In addition to the planned curriculum, residents are involved in several unique community service activities.

RAM Clinic

Many 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.

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 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.

Taking care of patients at both UVA and the Charlottesville Free Clinic, you begin to understand the effects of structural inequities and social complexities in providing care to the poor and underserved.

Sumit Agarwal, MD, PGY-3

UVA is one of two safety net hospitals in the state. As residents, we primarily serve an economically disadvantaged population and regularly see patients who must drive three to four hours to receive their care. Gaps in care still exist in Virginia, of course, and the Charlottesville Free Clinic fills one of these gaps, targeting the working uninsured population of Charlottesville. These are people who work hard in the community, as janitors or cashiers or mechanics, yet do not have and cannot afford health insurance. Started several years ago by one of the General Medicine faculty at UVA when he was a resident here, the clinic has grown in size and provides vital care to those who would otherwise not be able to see a physician or obtain medications.

Working at the clinic is undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of residency. I get to care for a unique patient population, practice with greater autonomy, and experience delivery of care in a setting that is quite different from the relatively well-resourced academic medical center where I normally see patients. For those like me who are interested in social justice and health care disparities, this experience has been invaluable.