Why It Matters
Dell Medical School’s groundbreaking curriculum is designed to train and support physician leaders, preparing students to work collaboratively with other health professionals and focusing them on the distinct challenges of 21st-century health and medicine, in addition to engaging their creativity in solving them.
The C.D. Doyle Clinic, which primarily serves Austinites who are uninsured, underinsured or experiencing homelessness, meets a community need while also giving medical students the opportunity to work on the front lines of health care, supporting volunteer physicians alongside students from the schools of Social Work and Nursing and the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas at Austin.
Defining the Problem
In 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that more than 15 percent of Travis County residents younger than 65 were without medical insurance. That figure does not include the number of underinsured — those who have insurance but for whom the coverage is inadequate.
Accessing medical care is a challenge for people who are un- or underinsured, who have existing medical bills and are afraid of incurring additional costs, or who are homeless or undocumented. Often, people in these circumstances will forego needed care and preventative services because of their fear of incurring costs, of being turned away, or of the stigma brought by not having the resources to pay for care.
Meanwhile, traditional medical curricula underemphasize hands-on learning opportunities, leaving up-and-coming doctors ill-equipped to rise to the complete range of challenges they will encounter in practice.
More than half of second- and third-year Dell Med students have spent time volunteering at the C.D. Doyle Clinic, alongside 20 physicians.
They are joined by six student volunteers from the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, three from the School of Nursing and more than 30 undergraduate volunteers from UT Austin and beyond.
What Dell Med Is Doing
Dell Med encourages its students to take advantage of volunteer opportunities like those at the C.D. Doyle Clinic. Its core services are provided by interdisciplinary teams of medical residents — doctors in training programs co-sponsored by Dell Med and Ascension Seton — as well as undergraduate and graduate students in social work, pharmacy, nursing and physical therapy.
In this way, the clinic provides an opportunity not only for patients in need to access and receive care, but also for students to obtain the skills needed to work with and treat patients within their community.
First founded by medical students at The University of Texas Medical Branch, C.D. Doyle typically treats patients with acute care needs and wounds, but also helps with access to medications for chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Patients may also obtain HIV tests, pregnancy tests and vaccines.