Kevin Garcia Rios ’21.5

San Francisco Free Clinic, San Francisco, CA

This summer I interned at the San Francisco Free Clinic (SFFC), a clinic that primarily treats uninsured patients. My time was split between the back office and the front office on tasks such as checking in patients, completing urine analysis, venipuncture (blood draws), translation, shadowing physicians, and stocking medications. I also greeted patients, answered phones, and managed some charts. While I am trained as a certified nurse assistant (CNA), I learned how to draw blood and give vaccinations. It was incredibly rewarding to administer Covid-19 vaccines and help our society through the pandemic.

Working in the lab, getting a syringe ready for a vaccine.

Learning and completing the front desk tasks was probably one of the harder aspects of my internship. At times there are multiple phones ringing, people at the door, and patients waiting to make follow up appointments. The staff at SFFC took this in stride and were very receptive to my questions and helped me learn how to work in the front office. Overall, I am glad that I was able to contribute to the front desk tasks while gaining a new appreciation for the reception workers at SFFC.

Throughout my internship I was also able to perform a study where I tracked patients’ language needs and how SFFC could meet these needs. I asked patients their preferred language and if they needed an interpreter while comparing their answers to the electronic medical record. I tracked how SFFC provided interpretation and if interpretation would have helped (when it was not provided). Performing this study was enjoyable as I was able to study something I found interesting while providing the clinic with some useful information.

The most impactful parts of my internship were shadowing physicians and interaction with the staff at the clinic. Shadowing the physicians made me really excited about going to medical school, and the interactions with staff was also really rewarding. More specifically, I enjoyed talking to SFFC staff about their motivation to work at a free clinic or their desires to pursue a career in medicine.

Getting ready to check in on a patient and take their vital signs.

This summer internship has increased my motivation to continue my path into medicine. I really enjoyed being in a medical setting and was able to see some differences between CNA and medical assistant’s work. My commitment to becoming a physician was reassured through my internship at SFFC. Furthermore, it was heartwarming being in a medical clinic that serves people without insurance. I was inspired by the staff who tirelessly wanted to help their patients. Before this internship I thought that I would want to work in a free clinic. After being in such an impactful clinic, I am motivated to continue my path in medicine and hope that one day I am able to work in a similar setting. I would like to thank Dr. Patricia Hellman Gibbs ’82 and Dr. Richard Gibbs, and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for this incredible opportunity.