October 7, 2005

Med student-run health clinic opens doors

Featured Image

The VUSM student-run Shade Tree Family Clinic opened last Saturday. Here, Travis Bowles, M.D., a supervising attending physician, right, demonstrates exam techniques to medical students, from left, Douglas Anderson, Natalie Jacobowski and Brent Taylor, who doubled as a mock patient.
photo by Anne Rayner

Med student-run health clinic opens doors

The Shade Tree Family Clinic, run by Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students, made its debut last weekend, providing much needed free health care to Nashville's medically underserved community.

The clinic, operated by VUSM in partnership with United Neighborhoods Health Services, is open Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., Tuesdays from 6-9 p.m. and is located at 222 Grace Street, just off Dickerson Road in East Nashville. The clinic operates out of the Sam Levy/McFerrin Park Clinic operated by United Neighborhoods Health Services.

VUSM students, under the supervision of attending physicians, provide urgent and chronic walk-in care at the clinic for the area's uninsured patients. The clinic also provides health education and patient referrals and acts as a 'bridge' between the medically underserved community and other components of the region's health care system.

Last Saturday, VUSM students treated patients for the first time, and the public response to the new clinic was strong, said second-year medical student Dana Guyer, one of the clinic's directors.

“We have been working closely with community organizations and neighborhood residents to get their input and support for the clinic. Everyone we've worked with has been incredibly positive, and from the feedback we've received it seems that neighbors think the clinic will be great for the community.

“The medical students are thrilled to be able to get out in the community and interact with patients and we're hoping that our clinic will have a sustainable impact on this community,” Guyer said.

Primary funding for the Shade Tree Family Clinic came from a grant from the Newman's Own Foundation for $35,000 over two years. The clinic also recently received a $25,000 grant from the Rasmussen Foundation. Vanderbilt is providing financial and administrative support for the clinic, with a goal of Shade Tree becoming a vital part of the medical safety net for uninsured and underinsured patients in Nashville.

“We are very proud of our students who independently decided to establish the clinic, investigated the needs of our community for health care, and have carefully and thoughtfully planned where, when and how to partner with the community to provide service,” said Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine. “They have demonstrated our Medical Center's commitment to the community it serves.”