Duke Students Provide Care in Rural N.C.

Published February 11, 2008 under Education News

This story was originally published as the cover story of DukeMed Alumni News, Winter 2008

By Bernadette Gillis

Duke’s relationship with Fremont, N.C., goes back to the late 1980s, but 2007 marked a year of new beginnings for both the rural town and the Duke medical students who volunteer their time there.

Not only did the student-run Fremont People’s Clinic reopen after being closed for two years, but two students received a grant that will help purchase much-needed supplies for the free, once-a-month clinic located about 70 miles east of Durham.

In July fourth-year students Andrew Pogozelski and Patty Convery were awarded a Caring for Community Grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The $15,000 grant will be used for the clinic over four years. Each year the AAMC awards grants to support community projects initiated, developed, and run by medical students. The last time Duke received the grant was in 2002.

“The money will allow us to improve the clinic and provide new, quality equipment to examine the patients,” says Convery, who along with Pogozelski is responsible for determining what supplies to order. “A new exam table will make a world of difference.”

Three other students who have since graduated—Sara Condron, MD’07, Tracy Robinson, MD’07, and Sunny Wang, T’01, MD’07— are not named in the grant but all played a significant role in writing the proposal.
For the past year Pogozelski and Convery have served as cochairs of Duke’s chapter of the N.C. Student Rural Health Coalition, and each month they recruit a small group of first- and third-year students to travel to Fremont. They recently handed over the reins to third-year students Hamza Aziz, Donald Lucas, and Greg Osmond.

The clinic is held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third Saturday of every month inside a trailer that does double duty as a community center. The students provide basic medical screenings for patients, including pregnancy tests, urinalyses, and blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol checks. The students’ preceptor, Jeff Margolis, MD, a physician with the nonprofit organization Goshen Medical Center, writes prescriptions for patients as needed.