Student-run clinics represent a unique medical education and healthcare delivery model powered largely by good intentions. These good intentions may produce questionable results, however, when juxtaposed with intense academic pressure to fill one’s curriculum vitae with personal achievements, leadership roles and peer-reviewed publications. It becomes a legitimate ethical question whether student-run clinics consistently and materially enrich the care of underserved communities, or merely inspire a litany of rushed, short-term and low-quality projects that sidestep patient welfare or even cause brazen harm. As co-directors of HOMES Clinic, a student-managed clinic which offers free health and social services to people experiencing housing insecurity, we routinely encounter such well-intentioned but ethically questionable proposals. Here, we present four short case studies that dissect apart some of these common yet suspect assumptions underpinning student-run clinics. We then conclude with a rubric for reflective, calibrated action.
- medical education
- public health
- primary care
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Contributors NP, JTG and DC equally conceived and wrote the manuscript. NP acts as the guarantor for this work.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests The authors have no relevant disclosures or competing interests.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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