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Advocates for Health Access in Worcester

Students enrolled in the Graduate School of Nursing and the School of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School donate their time in many ways to serve our local community.  These activities include serving food to the needy, mentoring refugee youth, and volunteering under supervision at the local free health care clinics:  Epworth; St. Anne’s; Greenwood St.; India Society of Worcester Health Stop; and Akwaaba Health Initiative. In 2016, UMMS students actively enrolled in the GSN and SOM established an interest group “Advocates for Health Access in Worcester” with an assigned UMMS faculty sponsor.

Volunteerism speaks to the highest values of the health care profession.  When students volunteer under supervision at free health care clinics, there are guiding principles that they should follow.  These include:

  • Assuring they are working under supervision of a physician and that the nature of the supervision is appropriate and understood by both student and physician;
  • Assuring that patients understand that they are students working under supervision of the on-site physician;
  • Only performing tasks under supervision consistent with one’s level of education; this means only performing tasks that one would perform while in school.  Said differently, students should not perform tasks that they would not perform in their school by virtue of their class.
  • Following universal precautions;
  • Understanding the proper procedures to be followed if a safety issue occurs, such as an exposure to a bloodborne pathogen;
  • Assuring that the supervising physician is made aware of any complaint that has been raised;
  • Understanding any site-specific protocols that the free clinic leadership may have established;

These guidelines assist students in their volunteerism, assuring their personal safety and that of patients.  This makes for a very positive volunteer activity.  In the case of medical emergencies, student volunteers should call for emergency medical services (911) as indicated by the situation. In the case of personal exposures, students should follow school policies regarding notification, care, and follow-up as outlined on the student health website: http://www.umassmed.edu/studenthealth/blood-borne-pathogen-exposure/.

Revised September 2016