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      The Effect of Medical Student Volunteering in a Student-Run Clinic on Specialty Choice for Residency

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          Abstract

          Introduction: Student-run free clinics (SRFCs) are a recent popular addition to medical school education, and a subset of studies has looked at the influence of SRFC volunteering on the medical student’s career development. The majority of the research done in this area has focused on understanding if these SRFCs produce physicians who are more likely to practice medicine in underserved communities, caring for the uninsured. The remainder of the research has investigated if volunteering in an SRFC influences the specialty choice of medical school students. The results of these specialty choice studies give no definitive answer as to whether medical students chose primary or specialty care residencies as a result of their SRFC experience.

          Keeping Neighbors in Good Health through Service (KNIGHTS) is the SRFC of the University of Central Florida College of Medicine (UCF COM). Both primary and specialty care is offered at the clinic. It is the goal of this study to determine if volunteering in the KNIGHTS SRFC influences UCF COM medical students to choose primary care, thereby helping to meet the rising need for primary care physicians in the United States.

          Methods: A survey was distributed to first, second, and third-year medical students at the UCF COM to collect data on demographics, prior volunteering experience, and specialty choice for residency. Responses were then combined with records of volunteer hours from the KNIGHTS Clinic and analyzed for correlations. We analyzed the frequency and Pearson’s chi-squared values. A p value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

          Results: Our survey had a total response rate of 39.8%. We found that neither the act of becoming a KNIGHTS Clinic volunteer nor the hours volunteered at the KNIGHTS Clinic influenced the UCF COM student’s choice to enter a primary care specialty (p = NS). Additionally, prior volunteering/clinical experience or the gender of the medical school student did not influence a student’s choice to volunteer at the KNIGHTS Clinic.

          Discussion: Volunteering at KNIGHTS Clinic did not increase student choice to enter primary care, with students choosing other specialties at equal rates, probably due to the variety of specialties present at the KNIGHTS Clinic. This suggests that the volunteer attending physicians present at an SRFC may influence the choice of residency for students. It also suggests that SFRCs are not a viable tool to increase the number of primary care doctors in the United States.

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          Determinants of primary care specialty choice: a non-statistical meta-analysis of the literature.

          This paper analyzes and synthesizes the literature on primary care specialty choice from 1987 through 1993. To improve the validity and usefulness of the conclusions drawn from the literature, the authors developed a model of medical student specialty choice to guide the synthesis, and used only high-quality research (a final total of 73 articles). They found that students predominantly enter medical school with a preference for primary care careers, but that this preference diminishes over time (particularly over the clinical clerkship years). Student characteristics associated with primary care career choice are: being female, older, and married; having a broad undergraduate background; having non-physician parents; having relatively low income expectations; being interested in diverse patients and health problems; and having less interest in prestige, high technology, and surgery. Other traits, such as value orientation, personality, or life situation, yet to be reliably measured, may actually be responsible for some of these associations. Two curricular experiences are associated with increases in the numbers of students choosing primary care: required family practice clerkships and longitudinal primary care experiences. Overall, the number of required weeks in family practice shows the strongest association. Students are influenced by the cultures of the institutions in which they train, and an important factor in this influence is the relative representation of academically credible, full-time primary care faculty within each institution's governance and everyday operation. In turn, the institutional culture and faculty composition are largely determined by each school's mission and funding sources--explaining, perhaps, the strong and consistent association frequently found between public schools and a greater output of primary care physicians. Factors that do not influence primary care specialty choice include early exposure to family practice faculty or to family practitioners in their own clinics, having a high family medicine faculty-to-student ratio, and student debt level, unless exceptionally high. Also, students view a lack of understanding of the specialties as a major impediment to their career decisions, and it appears they acquire distorted images of the primary care specialties as they learn within major academic settings. Strikingly few schools produce a majority of primary care graduates who enter family practice, general internal medicine, or general practice residencies or who actually practice as generalists. Even specially designed tracks seldom produce more than 60% primary care graduates. Twelve recommendations for strategies to increase the proportion of primary care physicians are provided.
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            Medical Student-Run Health Clinics: Important Contributors to Patient Care and Medical Education

            Background Despite the popularity of medical student-run health clinics among U.S. medical schools, there is no information about how many clinics exist, how many students volunteer there, or how many patients they see and what services they offer. Objective We describe, for the first time, the prevalence and operation of medical student-run health clinics nationwide. Design and participants A web-based survey was sent to all 124 Association of American Medical Colleges allopathic schools in the 50 states. Results Ninety-four schools responded (76%); 49 schools had at least 1 student-run clinic (52%). Fifty-nine student-run clinics provided detailed data on their operation. The average clinic had 16 student volunteers a week, and most incorporated preclinical students (56/59, 93%). Nationally, clinics reported more than 36,000 annual patient–physician visits, in addition to more nonvisit encounters. Patients were predominantly minority: 31% Hispanic; 31% Black/African American; 25% White; 11% Asian; and 3% Native American or other. Most student-run health clinics had resources both to treat acute illness and also to manage chronic conditions. Clinics were most often funded by private grants (42/59, 71%); among 27 clinics disclosing finances, a median annual operating budget of $12,000 was reported. Conclusions Medical student-run health clinics offer myriad services to disadvantaged patients and are also a notable phenomenon in medical education. Wider considerations of community health and medical education should not neglect the local role of a student-run health clinic.
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              Student-run health clinic: novel arena to educate medical students on systems-based practice.

              In recent decades, the United States has experienced substantial growth in the number of student-run clinics for the indigent. Today, over 49 medical schools across the country operate over 110 student-run outreach clinics that provide primary care services to the poor and uninsured. Despite this development, little research has been published on the educational value of such student-led endeavors. Although much has been surmised, no general methodology for categorizing the learning experience in these clinics has been established. This article represents the first literature review of the novel method of educating students through the operation of a clinic for the underserved. It highlights the student-run clinic as a unique enhancement of medical education that may supplant current curricular arenas in teaching students about systems-based practice principles such as cost containment and financing, resource allocation, interdisciplinary collaboration, patient advocacy, and monitoring and delivery of quality care. The novelty of the student-run clinic is that students place themselves at the forefront of problem solving and system navigation to effectively care for severely disadvantaged populations. This article underscores the student-run clinic as a potentially ideal experiential learning method for preparing young physicians to confront a US healthcare system currently facing crises in cost, quality of care, and high rates of uninsurance. The article stresses the need for outcomes research on the long-term effectiveness of the student-run clinic experience in affecting medical student practice behaviors and attitudes in patient care settings that extend beyond the student-run clinic.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Cureus
                Cureus
                2168-8184
                Cureus
                Cureus (Palo Alto (CA) )
                2168-8184
                9 January 2017
                January 2017
                : 9
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ] College of Medicine, University of Central Florida
                [2 ] Medical Education, University of Central Florida College of Medicine
                Author notes
                Article
                10.7759/cureus.967
                5298908
                3de54b21-9163-479a-97bf-822cd6bf6f43
                Copyright © 2017, Brown et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Categories
                Internal Medicine
                Medical Education
                Family/General Practice

                student-run free clinic,medical students,specialty choice,education,primary care,underserved,uninsured,volunteering,academic outcomes,academic success

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