"The Free Clinic is a reminder of why we choose to be physicians - to help those who cannot help themselves. Hearing Dr. Mitchell talk about the Free Clinic when I interviewed at TTUHSC School of Medicine convinced me to attend here.
The Free Clinic gave me the space to gain confidence as a doctor, not just someone who knows why you're sick but someone who can sit down, explain it, and build long-term relationships to affect change over time. Unlike anywhere else in medical school, the 3rd and 4th year students learn to teach, a critical skill for residents, fellows, and any physician in the academic setting. Finding the joy in teaching medicine at The Free Clinic strongly influenced my decision to go into academic medicine.
The cross-generational relationships that are formed among medical students of various levels, residents, physicians, nurses, undergrads, pharmacists, and social workers create a community of organic interdisciplinary learning (I wish I could tell you how often I've gone down to the pharmacy to ask them for help.). It's common to see nurses teaching other students how to give vaccines or draw blood. When upper-level students or attendings teach about any particular topic, nurses often gravitate to the circle, offering their own experience or learning something new themselves.
The people of the Free Clinic have made me a more knowledgeable, confident, collaborative doctor. They nurtured me in a safe environment, encouraging me to trust myself and allowing me to grow into a medical school graduate looking forward to the new challenges of residency. I wanted to become a physician because I love science and I love connecting with people. Medicine challenges me to think with my whole brain, and patients challenge me to empathize with my whole heart. Nothing else pushes me to be excellent in so many ways."
Alexandra Wichmann is a recent TTUHSC School of Medicine graduate. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs , but considers Houston home. She graduated from Rice University in religious studies.