Physician Assistant Studies Students Volunteer at Nation's Largest Pop-Up Clinic

Ten students from the Division of Physician Assistant Studies volunteered the weekend of July 21, 2017, to serve at the Remote Area Medical's mobile clinic.

Physician Assistant Studies Students Volunteer at Nation's Largest Pop-Up Clinic click to enlarge Dr. Chelminski, Todd Williams, and 10 PA students travelled to Wise for the pop-up clinic that saw more than 2,000 patients.

On Friday, July 21, 2017, Division of Physician Assistant Studies Director Paul Chelminski, MD, Assistant Professor Todd Williams, MMS, PA-C, and 10 students from the division travelled to Wise, Virginia, for the weekend to participate in Remote Area Medical’s annual Wise pop-up clinic.

The Wise event is the largest free, mobile clinic in the United States, and this year’s saw more than 2,000 underserved residents hailing from rural Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Volunteers provided free medical, dental, and vision services to individuals who lined up in anticipation of the clinic’s opening at 5 a.m.

Division of Physician Assistant Studies students assisted in patient registration, pre-screening and triage, and patient assessment under the supervision of Dr. Chelminski and other volunteer physicians.

Kendra Potter is a first-year student in the Physician Assistant Studies program. She is from Wise and was a driving force behind the division’s participation in this year’s event.

“I had knowledge of the RAM event and always wanted to volunteer,” she said.

So she and classmate Charles Locke, who comes to UNC from a rural North Carolina town, garnered support from their classmates for a cause so near to their hearts.

“The opportunity to volunteer in any RAM event is rewarding, but having the chance to volunteer in my hometown was special,” said Potter. “This community will be forever grateful for the services we provided, and I am honored to be able to give back to those who helped me along the way.”

As a preceptor accompanying the 10 students, Dr. Chelminski said the experience was validation of the division’s mission-based recruiting strategy and a reflection of the program’s goal in training future physician assistants for practice in rural areas.

“There are plenty looking for the opportunity to receive the unparalleled medical education offered at UNC,” Dr. Chelminski said. “You just have to patiently and methodically look for them and listen to them in the interview process to hear if they are singing the right song.”

Dr. Chelminski believes this group of 10 students was singing the perfect song.

“The RAM event is a great testament to the hard-wired altruism of our students,” said Dr. Chelminski. “They were the leaders of this event, and I feel fortunate to have been included.”

Remote Area Medical has been providing medical care through mobile clinics to isolated, impoverished, or underserved populations since 1985. Their efforts span not only rural swaths of the United States, but internationally, as well. To learn more about their endeavors, visit their website, or check out The New York Times’ article on RAM’s Wise clinic.

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