TCOM students find satisfaction in clinic work

TCOM Student volunteers

One of Gabbi Saks’ favorite parts of her medical education occurs once a month in a clinic at Cornerstone Assistance Network.

That’s where Saks and other Texas College of Medicine students triage and help care for uninsured patients at the Fort Worth nonprofit’s Saturday charitable clinic.

“You spend a lot of time with each patient and get a full understanding of their health and stressors in their personal life,” said Saks, MPH. “And the patients are so very grateful because many of them have been turned away elsewhere. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience.”

By volunteering to care for the most at-risk Tarrant County residents, Saks and other students are furthering TCOM students’ legacy of serving others in the community. For years, TCOM students have gained experience at the clinic just east of downtown Fort Worth.

First-and second-year students triage patients, gather medical histories and consult with volunteer physicians at the clinic, which has 2,000 patient encounters a year.

“We have a wonderful partnership with UNTHSC,” said Lorene McCoy, the clinic’s director of health services. “The students are very helpful in making sure we treat our patients efficiently and effectively.”

Many of the volunteers are members of the UNTHSC chapter of the American Association of Osteopathic Women Physicians. First-year TCOM students are paired with second-year students on volunteer shifts and work closely with volunteer physicians from a variety of specialties.

Saks, who serves as the chapter’s vice-president, tells first-year students that Cornerstone Clinic is the best clinical and volunteer experience they will find. She has encountered patients diagnosed with everything from heart disease to brain tumors.

The patient interactions offer more than technical experience to students, however. It also inspires them to continue volunteering their medical skills to help uninsured patients after graduation.

“I know that after I become a doctor and start a practice that I’ll continue to give back to my community by helping people who need it most,” Saks said. “And many of the other students feel the same way.”

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