Students of the Mobile Clinic at UCLA hit the streets of L.A. to provide services to the homeless.
At UCLA, there’s a unique prescription for giving students real-world experience – and serving the community. The volunteer, student-run Mobile Clinic at UCLA brings medical, law, public health and undergraduate students out of the classroom and onto the streets, where they provide care for those who have nowhere else to turn. The patients, often homeless, sit on folding chairs along the sidewalk as students create a makeshift clinic from a delivery truck.”
“For students, the street clinic offers valuable – if at times chaotic – field experience. “You’re trying to listen to [a patient’s] heart, to their lungs, and there’s street noise, there’s conversations going on,” says Boba Benghaly, a second-year medical student. But the mobile clinic offers more than just free medical care. Patients are given a warm welcome, a hot meal, a physical exam and legal services.
“We’re here where they feel most comfortable,” said Kevin Norris, one of the program’s undergraduate coordinators. “We really treat them as individuals deserving of respect, because so many of the homeless people here in Los Angeles are really just looked down upon and largely ignored by much of the population.”
“The experience also serves as a platform for students to practice bedside manner and grow their compassion, as well as to cultivate a sense of common humanity with those in the unique mix of patients they see.
The Mobile Clinic at UCLA helps about 25 clients per night, in addition to those who may come in for a hygiene kit, which contains small essentials such as shampoo, toothbrushes and socks. Besides streetside service, a primary objective is to connect patients with nearby health centers, including the Step Up on Second mental health facility and Ocean Park Community Center, both in Santa Monica; the Saban Community Clinics, in West Hollywood and Los Angeles; and the Venice Family Clinic. The students even provide bus tokens and taxi vouchers to help patients get there.