UCF’s student-run free clinic celebrates a decade of service this year — providing primary and specialty care to Orlando’s uninsured while giving medical students hands-on experiences as clinicians and caretakers in their community.

Founded in 2013 with Orlando’s Grace Medical Home, the KNIGHTS (Keeping Neighbors In Good Health Through Service) helps Grace care for 3,600 uninsured patients and provide extended clinic hours. During its tenure, KNIGHTS has expanded its care to include:

  • Pediatrics care in addition to serving adults
  • Added procedures to its services,  including vasectomies and skin lesion removals
  • Transitioned from solely providing primary care to offering 10 plus specialties.
  • Opened a Lifestyle education program to improve patients’ health outcomes and quality of life
  • Provided counseling, social work, pharmacy, audiology and nutritional programs
  • Moved to a larger building in 2017

Magdalena Pasarica has served as medical director for the KNIGHTS Clinic since 2014, focusing on using quality improvement studies and research to elevate the clinic’s services.

“I am honored to lead the team that has created a vibrant, compassionate, and patient-centered clinic that serves as a beacon of hope for our community,” she says.

KNIGHTS Clinic is funded by a grant from the Diebel Legacy Fund at the Central Florida Foundation and is unique nationally because of the partnership between UCF and an established community free clinic.

“Each new board of students who comes in every year brings their own ideas on how to improve the clinic,” says KNIGHTS Clinic Director and medical student Spenser Kaplan. “For example, our team has built self-directed training modules so students can improve in the areas they need help in.”

“The KNIGHTS Clinic is much bigger than when it began,” says Stephanie Garris, CEO of Grace Medical Home. “The clinic was originally conceived as an entirely student-run organization, but by including Grace staff and partners from other disciplines, students have more people to learn from and we have expanded the services we can provide.”

Garris says the partnership has provided a unique learning opportunity for the students.

“It is critical for students to understand the challenges for patients without insurance and the barriers they face,” she says. “By partnering together, they can see this firsthand, while also learning to understand the medical home model.”

As a medical home, Grace provides a continuous, comprehensive and holistic care model to its patients.  Garris says students have told her experiencing this style of care has changed the way they look at medicine.

“I will always appreciate how KNIGHTS Clinic has helped me build confidence in my skills as a future clinician,” says Mason Williams, a fourth-year student who served on KNIGHTS Clinic leadership in her second year. “I am thankful for the patients who trust me and my colleagues to both care for and learn from them as we begin our careers.”