Oct. 4, 2017 — The UF Mobile Outreach Clinic unveiled its newly renovated bus to students and faculty of the UF College of Medicine Sept. 27.
The bus, which has served as the UF Mobile Outreach Clinic, or MOC, for nearly eight years, delivers health care to the medically underserved in low-income neighborhoods and rural areas in and around Alachua County while providing UF undergraduate, medical, physician assistant and other health professions students with valuable educational experience.
Last year, the MOC provided more than 4,000 individuals with health care, including acute care visits, preventive health screenings, sports physicals and chronic disease management, said Dr. Grant Harrell, medical director of the MOC.
“We strive to be even more innovative,” said Harrell, who began volunteering on the MOC during his fourth year of medical school at the UF College of Medicine. “We want to push the envelope in community outreach and health care.”
Aside from students, the bus is also manned by staff, residents, faculty from various UF departments and volunteer physicians from the community.
“This community-university partnership is a model of how we can leverage resources to care for our community and fellow citizens,” Harrell said.
The clinic transitioned from women’s health to community health care in 2010, said Joseph C. Fantone, M.D., senior associate dean for educational affairs in the UF College of Medicine, adding that the MOC would not be possible without the vision of professor emeritus Nancy Hardt, M.D.
While the mobile clinic provides health care to underserved populations, its mission is to educate students in fields such as medicine, pharmacy and dentistry.
Fourth-year medical student De-Vaughn Williams began volunteering with the MOC eight years ago during his first semester at UF. He was introduced to the clinic by Hardt and has been with the team ever since.
Williams said by volunteering on the bus, he developed compassion and empathy for the patients the clinic serves. He said he also gained confidence in his clinical skills by interacting with patients regularly.
“It’s the best environment for students to learn about social disparities in the community,” Hardt said. “It’s hard to teach that in the classroom.”
Fantone said the MOC teaches students the value of access, as many of the clinic’s patients are unable to find transportation to a doctor or must take three busses to get there.
“When students are out in the community, they experience the challenges these patients go through every day,” he said.