Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 352–356 | Cite as

Medical Student-Run Health Clinics: Important Contributors to Patient Care and Medical Education

  • Scott A. SimpsonEmail author
  • Judith A. Long
Original Article


Despite the popularity of medical student-run health clinics among U.S. medical schools, there is no information about how many clinics exist, how many students volunteer there, or how many patients they see and what services they offer.


We describe, for the first time, the prevalence and operation of medical student-run health clinics nationwide.

Design and participants

A web-based survey was sent to all 124 Association of American Medical Colleges allopathic schools in the 50 states.


Ninety-four schools responded (76%); 49 schools had at least 1 student-run clinic (52%). Fifty-nine student-run clinics provided detailed data on their operation. The average clinic had 16 student volunteers a week, and most incorporated preclinical students (56/59, 93%). Nationally, clinics reported more than 36,000 annual patient–physician visits, in addition to more nonvisit encounters. Patients were predominantly minority: 31% Hispanic; 31% Black/African American; 25% White; 11% Asian; and 3% Native American or other. Most student-run health clinics had resources both to treat acute illness and also to manage chronic conditions. Clinics were most often funded by private grants (42/59, 71%); among 27 clinics disclosing finances, a median annual operating budget of $12,000 was reported.


Medical student-run health clinics offer myriad services to disadvantaged patients and are also a notable phenomenon in medical education. Wider considerations of community health and medical education should not neglect the local role of a student-run health clinic.

Key words

medical student-run clinics-underserved population medical education community health 



We would like to thank Erin Engelstad and Jon Morris MD, at PennMed’s Office of Student Affairs for their helpfulness in contacting schools. More information about our research can be found online at

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest

None disclosed.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Pennsylvania School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Center for Health Equity Research and PromotionPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Leonard Davis Institute of Health EconomicsUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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