Oct. 24, 2019 — A group of UF College of Medicine students and faculty recently traveled to Florida’s Gulf Coast to help provide medical care to more than 500 patients over the course of two days.
Robert Hatch, M.D., a professor in the department of community health and family medicine and director of the H. James Free Center for Primary Care and Innovation, Maureen Novak, M.D., a professor in the department of pediatrics and associate dean for medical education, and Andrew Shychuk, M.D., an assistant professor in the department of medicine, joined 12 medical students to volunteer Oct. 12-13 in Bradenton, where a clinic was set up to serve patients who might otherwise not have had access to treatment. The clinic was established by Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit that provides mobile clinics around the country to offer free dental, vision and medical services to underserved and uninsured people.
The UF group worked alongside students from other institutions to treat patients ranging in age from 8 months old to 80 years old for conditions including pericarditis, COPD and dental abscesses. While the clinic — located at Manatee Technical College — did not open until 6 a.m. on Oct. 12, people arrived the night before and camped out in the early morning hours for the chance to see a health care provider, said Dana Eyerly, a third-year medical student who organized the trip along with classmate Holly Perez.
“We were able to give Pap smears to women and provide referrals for mammograms; we refilled prescriptions for antihypertensives that patients had gone months without because they couldn’t afford to see a physician,” Eyerly said.
This was the fourth time UF students and faculty participated in a Remote Area Medical clinic event as a group, said Wayne Dell, who serves as president and academic chair for the UF College of Medicine class of 2020 and organized the college’s participation in past years.
“Each year, clinic supervisors are so impressed with the work ethic, compassion and knowledge of UF’s medical students,” he said.
For patients, this opportunity provided much-needed health care. For students, it was a reminder of why they chose to dedicate their lives to medicine.
“Each person who participated saw the need and opportunity to serve others and made it a priority,” Eyerly said. “As I looked around, I was filled with pride at how they delivered health care with such compassion. I saw tired feet but happy hearts. Participating in this kind of project leaves its mark on you. It’s something you never forget.”