Growing up in Lubbock, I’ve had the opportunity of witnessing change and growth. This was particularly evident in the medical field, as multiple hospitals and clinics were built to accommodate the greater West Texas area. However, I also knew that certain groups of people were being left behind. Those who could not afford to pay out of pocket and, for whatever reason, were not on any type of insurance, were overlooked. So, part of my decision to return to Lubbock for medical school was knowing that I would be able give back to this community. It seemed obvious that the best way to do this would be through The Free Clinic.
By far my favorite part of The Free Clinic is getting to see the longitudinal progression of patients in the clinic. Most of the time, when I first meet a patient, I am astounded by the number of medical problems they have. Hearing their stories and knowing the huge responsibility I am taking by entering their lives drives my desire to help. As we work through issues, tackling one problem at a time, I am always amazed by how they progress and how the clinic can significantly change their lives. It is a humbling experience for me.
Some of the best things I have learned in my time at the clinic are patience and collaboration. Things can’t always be fixed by one change or one visit, and I may not be able to see the same patient every single week, but I know that relying on others and absorbing everything I can from upperclassmen makes me a better caretaker for the people I’m there to serve.
Paul David Gaschen is a second-year medical student and also president of the Raider Med Run Club from Lubbock. He received his Bachelor of Arts University Scholars degree at Baylor University and has an interest in orthopaedic surgery.