Clinic cares for community, serves as training ground for medical students

The clinic created cultural competency training to serve diverse patients.

Jamie VanGeest

Monday night, eight people were in the waiting room. One couple held each other and leaned back in their chairs, another couple spoke Spanish in a very casual tone as they anticipated the nurses calling their names.

Every Monday evening in the basement of Oliver Presbyterian Church, students from the Academic Health Center try to make Minneapolis’ Phillips neighborhood a healthier place.

This year the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic, which offers free and reduced-rate health care, is seeing more patients and offering more services.

In one evening, the clinic will see between five and 15 patients, which is up from the two to eight patients seen each night last year.

Prescriptions are filled by first-year pharmacy students, said Christina Cipolle, a second-year pharmacy student and co-chairwoman of the clinic.

For the first time this year, the clinic is offering pharmaceutical care, in which third-year pharmacy students meet with patients one-on-one to discuss the medications they are taking, Cipolle said.

Nursing, pharmacy, medical, public health and physical therapy students provide medical care to patients, with the guidance of physicians, through the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic.

The clinic is run on a sliding scale, with a majority of the patients receiving free care or reduced rates, said Nate Scott, second-year medical student and co-chairman of the clinic.

The clinic provides patients with diagnoses for diseases, vaccinations and counseling for any conditions to be dealt with.

“We provide any services that a person could get at any other medical clinic,” Scott said.

The lab at the clinic offers tests for sexually transmitted infections, Pap smears, pregnancy tests, on-site strep tests, among other things.

One thing that makes the clinic unique is that they have on-site physical therapy, Scott said. Some patients see the physical therapy students for regular treatment.

People of all ages and backgrounds come to the clinic for treatment. Scott estimated at least 25 percent of the patients are Latino. They also treat Hmong, Somalian and Eastern European patients.

Erin Drasler, a second-year medical student, is a Spanish interpreter at the clinic.

“I’m obsessed with Latin American culture, and it’s awesome to be able to help people who don’t speak English,” Drasler said.

In order to train the students at the clinic about the variety of cultures they will encounter, this year the clinic is having cultural competency training.

The clinic is planning the trainings with grants from the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the American Medical Association.

A pilot session was held a month ago, and the students discussed ways to connect with patients from different cultures, said Travis Olives, a first-year medical student and former co-chairman of the clinic.

“One thing we learned is to ask people about where their name comes from,” Olives said. “It’s one way to get a foot in the door.”

The clinic is partnered with the Powderhorn Phillips Cultural and Wellness Center, which provides training sessions on how different cultures deal with different sorts of medicine, Olives said.

The clinic receives administrative support from the Community-University Health Care Center, but is having a fundraiser to make enough money to keep the clinic running next year.

The second annual Art of Caring fundraiser will be tonight at the Weisman Art Museum.

There will be a silent auction, in which attendees can bid on a trip to Chicago, a Princeton Review prep course, artwork and more. The museum’s exhibits will be open during the event.