While attending the University of California Riverside (UCR), I joined the Medical Scholars Program (MSP). Through the MSP, I was given a fantastic opportunity to join the Student Run Health Clinic co-operated by mentored volunteer medical students from the University of Riverside Thomas Haider-UCLA School of Medicine (UC Riverside School of Medicine), and a group of physicians from the local community. As a Physician Assistant, I worked in conjunction with the physicians in mentoring 1st and 2nd year volunteer medical students from UCR's medical program.
It was in this small clinic, that I came face to face with the reality of homelessness. Children, kids ranging from new born to age 18 living on the streets, under bridges, right here in America! There was not a Wednesday clinic that did not see children arriving with their homeless parents in need of a hot meal and medical attention from the attending physicians and students. It was one of those Wednesday clinic days, folks lining up to be seen, a little girl of 9 came up to my student and I, she shyly smiled and said: "thank you for helping my little brother smile and feel better, he's only four and gets scared sometimes." As she spoke, her voice quivered a bit, a small tear brimmed and rolled down her cheek, both my student and I could not hold back; we both hugged our little patient, and his sister I couldn't keep back a tear; both my student and I grinned the rest of the evening, a child reached out to us and touched our hearts. Ever since this day my heart has been gripped by the needs of the hungry, thirsty, strangers who with their children live on our streets right here in middle America.
Today, as I step into the homeless clinic, I scan the gathering of underserved and homeless parents spotting the children amongst them, and there she is, that 9 year old girl who shared her heart with my student and I- we share a smile from across the room; I know it will be a good day!
The kids who come to us whose only possession is the hope in their pockets, have come amongst friends and future doctors who care. I feel my heart lift, my life has a renewed sense of purpose; today I have the honor of giving back to the men, women, and their children who come to us for a meal, a caring touch, and a smile.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gregory Chase, MSHED, MS Clinical Medicine, PA-C, RN is a Physician Assistant in Emergency Medicine at a local hospital.
Volunteer Student Run Health Care Clinic UC Riverside School of Medicine read more Student Run Health Clinic
Founder & Director of Childabuse.com
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