MedZou clinic celebrates grand opening

The clinic aims to provide free care and educate medical students.
MedZou Student Director Mark Sims gives a speech during Monday's grand opening of the health clinic. Open since October, MedZou offers free medical treatment to those without insurance and is serviced by volunteer medical students.

Those without health insurance have a new health care option through MedZou, a student-run medical clinic that had its grand opening Monday.

Although the clinic celebrated its opening Monday, it began seeing patients in October 2008. Kayla Schleicher, one of the first student directors for the clinic, said March 9 was the best time for everyone in the School of Medicine to celebrate the clinic's success.

MedZou Student Director Mark Sims said the clinic's purpose is two-fold: to provide medical care to poor, uninsured people in Columbia and to educate medical students both clinically and in the unique challenges that face the uninsured patients.

Previous MedZou Student Directors Vincent Horne and Daniel Miller said they are looking forward to the future of MedZou.

Horne said MedZou has provided an amazing experience to him and other medical students. He said MedZou offers medical students to be a part of something that helps the community.

Miller said MedZou focuses on ideals medical students hope to incorporate with their careers after they leave school.

"With all of the working, studying and memorizing, sometimes it's hard to remember why you're here," Miller said.

Students need to remember to get into medical school, they must have not only good grades, but also involvement in community projects, Miller said.

The clinic offers a hands-on alternative to sitting in a library all the time, Miller said.

Every week in the clinic, there are 10 medical students, one administrator and one director. Since its opening in October, MedZou has helped 70 patients in 120 clinic visits, Sims said.

Schleicher worked with fellow second-year medical students Horne, Miller and Emily Doucette as the first student directors for the clinic from January 2008 to January 2009.

"The older students were very passionate about the idea and wanted help of younger students to help carry out the process," Schleicher said. "The four of us in my class worked a lot on the background work for the clinic, researching locations, soliciting volunteers, writing grants, obtaining liability insurance."

Schleicher said about 35 other students helped out in various planning committees.

New student directors took over from Schleicher and her peers this semester, Schleicher said. Sims, Natalie Abert, Jessica Ellis and Chris Gu are the replacements, and Schleicher said they have done great things for the clinic since they began.

"They have been busy researching additional grants, designing the most effective operating plan for the clinic and spreading the word about MedZou to more patients," Schleicher said. "Since our opening in October, our volunteer base has expanded greatly and now includes over 100 students and dozens of physicians."

Schleicher said the most exciting aspect of MedZou is the opportunity to provide health care for those who have never had the option.

"Being able to diagnose a patient with diabetes or hypertension who has never had treatment allows us to make a real difference in the quality of his or her life," Schleicher said.

Schleicher said MedZou also gives medical students a great opportunity to work closely with accomplished physicians.

"Such a personal learning environment provides a unique educational opportunity for students," she said.

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