The Fremont Rural Health Clinic is a free health clinic held on the third Saturday of every month in Fremont, NC, a town of approximately 90 miles from Durham. We offer basic health services, including vaccinations, chronic condition management, acute care visits, and referrals to local medical centers. The physical clinic is funded by the town of Fremont and managed by the Fremont Rural Health Coalition. Duke students and attendings provide reliable medical care and medical supplies to the clinic.
The majority of student volunteers are first and third-year medical students. For first year students, Fremont People’s Clinic provides an invaluable learning opportunity to experience providing primary care in a rural setting, practicing physical examination skills, and presenting as well as documenting patient encounters in a friendly environment. The pace of the clinic permits ample time for students to engage in patient education, using techniques such as motivational interviewing, and to encourage patients to make lifestyle changes related to their illnesses. Third-year students can hone their skills and solidify their knowledge of common medical problems, as well as provide valuable mentorship to the MS1s. Moreover, the volunteer Duke attendings are always excited to teach and demonstrate physical examination skills. Working with patients in Fremont provides a real-world opportunity to learn about common chronic health conditions, barriers to care in rural and underserved communities, and the interpretation of really thick North Carolina accents and localisms, like goody powders and “falling out” (key in the wards during clinical years). Even for those with no interest in primary care, these learning opportunities can help make students shine during their clinical years.
First-year medical students who would like to attend clinic should sign up to join the Fremont People’s Clinic interest group in the fall. At a fall information session, we will review the requirements for volunteers, which includes a monthly two-hour class designed to prepare MS1 volunteers to work at clinic. The class topics are student-directed and in the past have included lectures on common chief complaints, such as hypertension and differential diagnoses for an acute or chronic cough, and practice patient interview sessions.
Second year medical students interested in joining the Fremont People’s Clinic board in their MS3 year can apply in Spring of their MS2 year. Participation on the student leadership board gives students practice in managing a clinic on a very minimal budget, recruiting and retaining patients, and establishing formal relationships with non-Duke local clinics and laboratories, as well as provides students with a deeper understanding of costs involved in medical care.
The Fremont People’s Clinic welcomes all students interested in volunteering at a free clinic. All students who volunteer at Fremont People’s Clinic can strengthen the relationship formed between Duke Medicine and the people of Fremont, NC, which has continued to provide a valuable service to the Fremont community for the past 30 years and counting.