One of the pearls of UTMB for me was their affiliation with St. Vincent's Hope Clinic. St. Vincent's Clinic is a cooperative effort between UTMB and St. Vincent's House that is committed to providing free quality healthcare to the underserved population of Galveston while facilitating the education of UTMB Medical and Physician Assistant students. Student volunteers are able to participate in the evaluation and management of patients including History and Physicals, writing notes, formulating treatment plans, and discussing the patient with a faculty volunteer. Students also have the chance to practice point of care testing and drawing blood.
My first day volunteering was actually just a week after beginning PA school. At that point we had learned about taking a proper history from patients and going through the review of systems. After that, I was fairly lost in the whole procedure of things around St. Vincent's. Since it is a free and student run clinic, things run much differently and slowly than a normal clinic does. It can take 3-4 hours to get through a visit for ONE patient because students go in, take history and physicals, leave the exam room, present to two faculty members, one of them being a Physician or Physician Assistant, the H&P findings, assessment, and plan for the patient, then return to the exam room with the Physician/PA while they conduct their quick assessment and give the patient the plan whether its ordering labs, setting up a Xray, prescribing medications, etc., leave the exam room, find the most cost friendly medication options, fax off X-ray forms to the nearest medical diagnostic center, write the prescriptions, get them signed off by the Physician/PA, give samples if available, allow the clinical lab specialist students time to take blood, finally return after all of these things are completed and give the patient further instructions and allow them to go, finally complete the EMR/EHR with all findings including HPI, ROS, vital signs, assessment, plan, etc., THEN you are ready to have a faculty director look over the chart and sign off. Although we were only able to get through one patient, I was so excited and thankful to be able to have that kind of patient contact before clinical year, because that's definitely not a normal thing for Physician Assistant programs. My hope is that I'll be able to be as comfortable as possible with being the primary provider through experience in this clinic throughout my didactic year, and that I'll be able to bring a positive light in the patients that I'll be seeing and help treat.
I only have one more day of the summer session left and that is tomorrow! It's been a whirlwind and I'm so excited for some rest and relaxation for a week. 🌞