Penn State Remote Area Medical provides a “viewpoint on the state of healthcare” in the US | Penn State, State College News

With over 1,000 clubs and organizations at Penn State, few revolve around community service like Penn State’s chapter of the national nonprofit organization Remote Area Medical.

According to Penn State Remote Area Medical President David Starnes, the club works with the national nonprofit to help provide free health care to the underserved at various health clinics.

“We want to hold local service events and try to bring perspective to the state of health care in the United States,” Starnes (senior biologist) said.

Starnes said RAM has clinics in underserved and rural areas where people have lower health literacy and don’t have easy access to hospitals.

“Essentially, a big part of our club is traveling to these RAM health clinics,” Starnes said. “At these clinics, we can volunteer on the weekend. We provide housing for students in the club who are interested in getting an insight into the industry.”

Catrina Herrera, Penn State RAM clinic coordinator, said they’ve been trying to get a clinic in Pennsylvania for the past few years.

“We know there’s a lot of need [the clinic] because there are really only pockets of good health care in Pennsylvania, and State College doesn’t really fall into those pockets,” said Herrera (senior psychologist).

Herrera said the club plans to host that clinic March 24-26, 2023, at Penns Valley Area Elementary and Middle School in Spring Mills, Pa., about 25 minutes from Penn State.

“The clinic will have free medical, dental and eye services. This includes essential services that people do not have access to, such as dental checkups,” Herrera said. “That includes tooth extractions, general medical exams, lab tests — they can get glasses and fill prescriptions.”

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Herrera said Penn State RAM had to hire all volunteer healthcare professionals, which made the task more difficult than other RAM clinics because of certain Pennsylvania laws that require professionals to be from Pennsylvania itself.

“We also have opportunities for people who are not vendors,” Herrera said. “Many of our students will be volunteering as something called ‘general support’.”

Herrera said general support volunteers, including students at the club and anyone else who would like to volunteer, can support patients, provide transportation and work on accommodations.

She also mentioned that people who are bilingual can serve as translators for patients who speak limited English.

Starnes said that while much of the club’s time was taken away from planning the clinic, it continued to operate as normal, hosting workshops and guest speakers for its members.

“We want to provide professional development opportunities for people who are interested in the medical field,” Starnes said. “We also host a lot of service workshops, like last year we had a scarf making workshop and we made a bunch of scarves to donate to a local [transitional housing program] called Center Safe.”

Hannah Klatte, director of media for Penn State RAM, talked about joining the club and described how they recruited club members.

“Many of our students are in some sort of pre-health condition, but not all of them—it’s by no means a requirement,” Klatte (senior biologist) said. “We’re trying to connect them with some of these graduate programs.”

Klatte said in addition to career speakers and workshops, the club often participates in team-building community workshops that range from going out for a meal to hosting a club game night.

For those interested in volunteering, students can join the mailing list or find more information using this link.

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