Free pop-up clinic proves to be more than a volunteer opportunity for one HSC student

When Conor Baze signed up for Remote Area Medical last year, he wasn’t sure what to expect. The local resident and then second-year student in The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s physician assistant studies program knew the free pop-up medical clinic would be a great opportunity to gain experience in a clinical setting, and he hadn’t started his clinical rotations yet.

But he quickly learned that RAM® was far more than just a chance for him to get experience.

“I signed up for RAM because I wanted to gain some experience prior to rotations and ended up realizing that this event was much bigger than myself,” Baze said.

RAM is a nonprofit that sets up free health clinics across the country. This year’s clinic is scheduled for Nov. 4 and 5 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2001 W. Seminary Drive in Fort Worth. It will mark the third year RAM and HSC have partnered to bring free, quality medical, dental and vision care to North Texas.

Volunteering for RAM in 2022 was humbling for Baze. While he knew there were people across North Texas who didn’t have access to care, he didn’t realize the extent of the need. The number of patients who showed up was astonishing to him. These patients willingly waited hours for the free services because they knew it was the only way they would get the care they needed. For Baze, that was heartbreaking.

“In health care, we tend to see a large sampling of the general population, but what we don’t always see is the population that doesn’t have access to care,” Baze said. “Whether the patients were immigrants, from rural areas or simply couldn’t afford health care, there were so many patients there desperate to receive the services we often take for granted.

“Being able to provide them with the care they needed was something I will never forget.”

Not only was the free pop-up clinic an eye-opening experience for Baze, it also was one that affirmed that he had chosen the right field and that the work he was doing was making a difference. He explained how health care is often a thankless job, and seeing how thankful the patients were to each person they encountered was both refreshing and rewarding.

Baze said that although his busy clinical rotations in the third year of his physician assistant studies program have made it so that he won’t be able to volunteer this year, he encourages others to experience helping out at RAM.

“I would say, ‘Don’t hesitate to say yes.’ The days are long, but the patients you encounter will teach you so much more than medicine.”

The Nov. 4 and 5 clinic will offer dental cleanings, fillings and extractions, eye exams, glaucoma testing, eyeglass prescriptions with glasses made on site, women’s health exams, and general medical exams. RAM services are first-come, first-served. They are offered free of charge, and no ID is required.

For more information about RAM’s pop-up clinics or to volunteer, visit www.ramusa.org, or call 865-579-1530. To donate, visit www.unthsc.edu/ram, or call 817-456-3143.

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