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Shade Tree Clinic

Alexandra Khodadadi

This summer I have been taking advantage of being involved in a very popular activity at Vanderbilt University, shadowing at the Shade Tree Clinic! Shade Tree is a family clinic run by Vanderbilt medical students. The clinic provides free health care to patients in need in the Middle Tennessee area. Shade Tree runs on the generous help of volunteering doctors, nurses, and medical students. I tried to shadow at the clinic during the school year, but it was so popular that it was booked for the whole semester! So I took advantage of its availability this summer, and went to shadow for the first time in June.

I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time I went to the Shade Tree Clinic. What I found was a tight-knit community committed to serving their patients and providing them with the best healthcare possible. The Shade Tree Clinic is truly a student-run clinic. As I was talking to a second-year medical student, she was telling me that most medical students who volunteer at the clinic have administrative tasks. She was in charge of the program that focused on patient education. She and other students would meet with each patient after their appointment, and educate them on how to lead a healthy life style. I was impressed with the responsibilities these students take on, and how well they run the clinic.

While at the Shade Tree Clinic, I was assigned to shadow a medical student, and we went to see a few patients. I enjoyed the opportunity to ask him about medical school, and it was rewarding to see how he was able to apply his studies to a clinical setting. Before each patient is released, the medical students present their cases to the doctors on duty that night. The doctors were just as thorough with the patients as the medical students, and would visit the patient as well.

Finally, I loved the sense of camaraderie at the clinic. Before beginning, each volunteer introduced his or herself. Volunteers would stay in the lounge when they were not seeing patients, and everyone was conversing with one another. In addition, everyone met together at the end of the night, and a medical student would present the cases he or she encountered that night. By the end of the night, I had a better perspective of why I wanted to be a doctor, and a few personal accounts of what medical school is like. I also enjoyed working with the people in the Nashville community. I am returning to the clinic a few more times this summer as a student observer, and I hope to volunteer as a Spanish interpreter in the fall!

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