Medical student Anthony Turner speaks about volunteering at Friends of the Night People, an organization for Buffalo’s homeless that includes a free medical clinic.

New Orientation Effort Highlights Service Learning for Med Students

Published September 26, 2013

During a recent city bus tour, first-year University at Buffalo medical students learned about opportunities to care for the underserved.

“It’s a nice refresher when you meet patients who validate the information you’re learning in lectures and textbooks.”
Anthony Turner,
Second-year UB medical student

The tour, which included stops at four community sites, is a new orientation initiative to acquaint students with service learning options that allow them to see patients and gain real-world experience.

Touring Clinics, Facilities for City’s Homeless

At Jericho Road Family PracticeKim Griswold, MD, associate professor of family medicine and psychiatry, discussed refugee health and the comprehensive scope of services that refugees and immigrants receive there.

Students learned how they could serve uninsured patients at the Lighthouse Clinica nonprofit drop-in clinic managed by eight UB medical students. 

They also visited Buffalo City Mission and Friends of the Night People, organizations that provide services and resources to Buffalo’s homeless.

At Friends of the Night People, second-year medical student Anthony Turner acquainted students with its free clinic and discussed common patient concerns, including athlete’s foot and fungal lesions.

He showed students the exam rooms, which are stocked not only with medical supplies but extra clothing and shoes for patients.

Hands-On Service Bolsters Training

Turner, a student manager and volunteer coordinator at Friends of the Night People, says volunteers have direct contact with patients before the attending physician joins them in the exam room.

“You’re encouraged to do as much of the patient interview and physical exam as you feel comfortable doing, and student managers are in the room to help guide you.”

The clinic’s small size helps students feel comfortable and allows them to take their time during the patient encounter, Turner notes.

“It's a nice refresher when you meet patients who validate the information you’re learning in lectures and textbooks,” he adds.

Service Learning Underscored at UB

Sarah Riley, a second-year medical student who helped plan the August 2013 bus tour, notes that service learning is heavily emphasized at UB.

“I would not have had these incredible learning experiences had I chosen another medical school,” she says, adding that volunteering at the clinics has introduced her to a diverse patient population.

The Office of Medical Education organized the bus tour in conjunction with senior medical students in the Gold Humanism Honor Society and second-year students who lead and coordinate the clinics.