Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic (BIFMC) provides free, comprehensive medical care and preventive health services to adults who have no health insurance and cannot otherwise access those services.
The Clinic is pleased to have recently launched their new Access Clinical Education Program (ACEP) to serve as an educational training site for aspiring health care professionals who wish to provide high quality care to those who typically face barriers to care. Current 3rd year Medical Student at the Medical University of South Carolina, Steven Lin, recently spoke with us about his Access Clinical Education Program internship at BIFMC, and the impact it will have on his medical training.
What is your medical field and journey so far, and what are your goals for the future? I am currently a 3rd year medical student at the Medical University of South Carolina. I am interested in applying to residency in surgery.
How did you learn about BIFMC and what experiences did you have while rotating with us? At MUSC, we are required to rotate through a 6 week rural family medicine clerkship. BIFMC was one of the local options that I found when I was doing research in finding sites close to Charleston. Since I have had prior experience volunteering at the CARES Free Medicine Clinic, I believed my experience working with the unique patient population would transition over.
BIFMC is an incredibly unique clinic, in that not only do primary care physicians volunteer at the clinic, but so do other medical specialist. One memorable experience I had involved a patient with unilateral proptosis secondary to her newly diagnosed hyperthyroidism. With her PCP, I was able to help manage her hyperthyroidism, then follow the patient to her afternoon visit with her ophthalmologist and learn about the management of thyroid eye disease with biologics. I was then able to work alongside our clinic staff in helping our patient obtain the biologic through patient assistance programs. Due to the full service, I was able to participate in the comprehensive care including primary, specialty, and interdisciplinary care.
What would you recommend to other student clinical interns as they prepare to round in the Clinic? Since there is such a diversity of specialist who volunteer at BIFMC, students have the valuable opportunity to work with a variety of physicians, each bringing their unique expertise and perspectives to enrich the learning experience. Be involved in clinic and be proactive. I would sometimes pre-chart the day before so I have a better idea of the patients I will be examining the next day. I would also help write up the encounter notes in the EMR. Students can also check in the clinic pharmacy to see if there were samples we could provide to patients to help bridge them over until their Welvista gets approved.
What do you feel are misconceptions surrounding a free clinic or the population who accesses care within a free clinic? Did anything surprise you? It’s a common belief that individuals utilizing a free clinic exclusively seek medical attention during emergencies. However, during my time at BIFMC, rather than predominantly addressing acute situations, a substantial portion of the patients I encountered sought care for the ongoing management of chronic conditions. I was surprised to witness a proactive approach among these patients who actively engaged in follow-up appointments. This observation challenges the stereotype that free clinic attendees solely rely on emergency services, highlighting that many of them are, in fact, conscientious stewards of their own health.
What the mentorship experience like working with BIFMC staff and volunteers? All of the providers and staff members at BIFMC were incredibly welcoming and friendly. Susan (nurse manager), Lucy, Melissa, Tawnia, Mary, and Marisa were great resources and incredibly helpful as I was figuring out how the clinic worked the first few weeks. I had the great opportunity to work under Drs. Brady, Caporossi, Charity, Cheeseman, Dominitz, Fisher, Franklin, Gilbreth, A. Hampton, M. Hampton, Kearse, Leventhal, Mallin, Manfred, Peterseim, Rodelsperger, Simaytis, Taylor, and Weinstein, who were all incredible educators as I learned different approaches to patient care and management through their mentorship. Dr. Peterseim is a great advocate for the patients we served in clinic and for furthering medical education by advocating for student involvement and opportunities at the clinic. Dr. Kearse is an incredibly patient and kind provider and educator; many of my most memorable moments interning at BIFMC were with Dr. Kearse and being able to observe her bedside manners with the patients.
Thank you, Steven, for your incredible service at BIFMC! We wish you luck on your future endeavors!
Are you a current aspiring health care student interested in interning at BIFMC? The program accepts up to two students per semester per clinical volume. All applicants must be currently enrolled as a medical student or family nurse practitioner and seeking clinical experience. For inquiries, please email email@example.com or apply here.