The student-run KNIGHTS free Clinic (Keeping Neighbors in Good Health Through Service) celebrated its one-year anniversary January 31, and a day later UCF medical students presented their creation at the  Society for Student Run Free Clinics (SSRFC) International Conference in Nashville, TN.

The annual conference drew more than 400 students from medical schools nationwide who are working with free clinics or are interested in establishing one.  Third-year students Erin Kane, Mike Arnold, Lynda Yu, Kayla Avery, Glenn Gookin offered two platform presentations and two poster presentations on the KNIGHTS Clinic, run in partnership with  Grace Medical Home near downtown Orlando. About 25 patients are receiving continuing care at the free clinic one night a month and the students have helped Grace ease a backlog of uninsured patients needing primary and specialty care.

Dr. Caridad Hernandez, the KNIGHTS Clinic faculty adviser, praised students for their dedication in making the facility successful. “The KNIGHTS Clinic is truly a student run clinic and I am so proud of what the student leaders have accomplished,” she said. “There has also been tremendous support from the entire COM student body and to date over 111 students from M-1 to M-4 years are active volunteers; that represents one-third of the entire study body!”

Kane and Avery’s 25-minute presentation, titled “Collaboration for Patient Care,” discussed how students collaborated with community organizations  to open the clinic. The Diebel Legacy Fund at the Community Foundation of Central Florida provided $10,000 to support the clinic and the Winter Park Health Foundation donated $5,000. “Students from other institutions were amazed by what we were able to set up so quickly being such a young school,” Kane said. “UCF was as well represented as many older, longer established schools and clinics.”

Yu’s poster presentation on  “Navigating the Challenges of an Affiliation Agreement between a University and a Private Free Clinic,” detailed how the College of Medicine was able to partner with the existing  Grace Medical Home.  “It was an honor to represent UCF COM and the KNIGHTS Clinic at the conference, to show our peers all that the clinic has accomplished in the past year.” Yu said. “The timing, with the clinic’s first anniversary the day before the conference, just made things even better.”

Another 25-minute platform presentation from Arnold titled: “Development of a Laboratory Training Module at a Student Run Free Clinic,” explained how students were trained to run the KNIGHTS Clinic’s lab and get more hands-on learning experiences. Gookin’s presentation on “Partnership between a Student-Run Clinic and a Private Medical Home” drew a great deal of interest. “At one point there was a line students and faculty waiting to ask me questions about the unique components of the project,” he said. “This reflects how fortunate we are to have such a successful collaboration with Grace Medical Home.”

The students have continually expressed their gratitude to their physician mentors, Dr. Marvin Hardy, director of Grace Medical Home,  Dr. Pinkal Patel, a family medicine specialist who works at the clinic and also is a preceptor to first- and second-year students, and core faculty members Drs. Hernandez and Judy Simms-Cendan, who helped guide them through the process of opening a medical clinic.