Teaching and training the next generation of healthcare professionals is a core component of SFFC’s mission. For student volunteers, the clinic provides an excellent opportunity to experience hands-on, direct patient care and make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. This September, two of our “alumni” volunteers paid us a visit and shared a little bit about why SFFC holds a special place in their hearts and how it continues to inform their journeys in healthcare.
Amy Wang, 2nd year medical student at UCSF
When people ask me if there was a specific moment or experience that led me to know I wanted to pursue medicine, I always immediately think of my time as a volunteer at SFFC. Before then, although I did already want to be a doctor, it was simply a theoretical idea - not grounded in true experience of what being a doctor would really be like. But that changed after spending time in the clinic. Working with patients energized and inspired me to want to continue doing so for the rest of my career. My abstract aspiration to become a physician was solidified by my experiences at SFFC.
What I love so much about SFFC is what a truly caring and encouraging environment it is; not only is that apparent in its mission and patient care, but it is also manifested in its commitment to teaching its volunteers and students. I was blessed to have the opportunity to be part of such a hands-on learning environment. Now in my second year of medical school at UCSF, I know I will continue to carry the experiences and lessons I've learned at SFFC with me throughout my medical education and training. It is really a one-of-a-kind place, and I am endlessly grateful to all the patients, providers, and staff at the clinic who have taught me so much!
Kyle Woolley, 2nd year RN at Kaiser SF
My time at the SFFC not only helped me choose a path that would shape the rest of my working life, but the SFFC itself is special. The dedicated staff, the clinic's mission and purpose, and the learning opportunities one gets as a volunteer MA there are priceless. I went into nursing school way ahead of the game of my classmates. (Plus, the connections and experience you get from the SFFC helped tremendously when applying to nursing school.) Also, the provider-patient relationship building was another terrific part of being there--getting to know patients who you see regularly not only contributes to continuity of care but it builds trust. It was really a wonderful opportunity to lay a foundation for learning the skills and getting experience from top-notch, high quality professionals. I am really grateful for my 1.5 years there and what I learned that I'll carry with me throughout my career. It's truly amazing what the SFFC does not just for future healthcare providers they teach, but ultimately the community they serve.
Kyle’s advice for those interested in pursuing a career in the health professions:
Get volunteer experience, try things out. It's hard, stressful, demanding work...and the stakes are high so make sure it's something you've gotten a good taste of before you go through school, etc. You'll be dealing not just with people's physical ailments, but their mental anguish and anxiety that accompanies a threat to one's health or life (and their families' concerns and demands as well). The learning curve is incredibly steep and like any new job, you'll be out of your comfort zone for a while. That is very normal! It’s important to remember you always have staff with you for help and in time it becomes more familiar. Even after a bad shift I can leave and know that what I did was purposeful. Don't forget, there are SO many avenues one can take in medicine and you will never stop learning.