Pharmacy Student Involvement in Student-Run Free Clinics

Anjoli Punjabi, PharmD, MPH, Broadway Family Medicine

Background: According to recent data, there are 85 Student Run Free Clinics (SRFCs) in the United States associated with medical schools and of these, 35 are partnering with pharmacy students. SRFCs are known for their ability to improve community health and to teach students clinical skills along with professional generosity. SRFCs primarily differ in the services they offer, student roles, preceptor models, and interprofessional interactions.

Purpose or Objective: This study sought to evaluate pharmacy student involvement and interprofessional collaboration in SRFCs. Specifically, the study explored pharmacy students’ roles in SRFCs, perceptions of the benefit of being involved in SRFCs, the feedback and preceptorship of student volunteers, interprofessional involvement, and educational credit associated with volunteer time in the SRFCs.

Study Design: The 139 pharmacy schools registered with American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (ACCP) were polled to determine if they were associated with a SFRC or not. Those that were associated with a SFRC were asked to respond to a 29-questionnaire survey using Qualtrics Survey Software. Follow-up emails and calls were sent to schools that did not respond.

Results: There were 45 survey respondents (32% response rate), with 29 schools responding that they did not have a SRFC while 16 of the schools were associated with one or more SFRCs. The roles of student pharmacists in SRFCs were variable and included point-of-care-testing, health screenings, and vaccine administration. Seven (44%) of the schools offered medication therapy management services. Twenty-four (83%) of the respondents had pharmacy students involved in administrative or leadership roles. The majority (81%) of respondents stated that their SRFC involved other health care professional students and preceptors. Fifty percent of schools that responded described the care provided by pharmacy students to be interprofessional in nature for more than 50% of their time spent in clinic. From the student perspective, the most common benefits of involvement were applying clinical knowledge and interacting with interprofessional students. Students most commonly received feedback from preceptors via interprofessional huddles, during downtime, and electronically (especially in regards to documentation).

Conclusions: SRFCs allow a unique opportunity for pharmacy students to take on leadership opportunities in an interprofessional environment. There appears to be variability in amount of time spent interacting with students from other professions. Therefore, the design of care teams and clinic flow in SFRCs should be intentional to maximize engagement in interprofessional work. The results of this study demonstrate the potential benefits that pharmacy schools may experience when they have an established partnership with a SFRC.

Key Point: SRFCs allow a unique opportunity for pharmacy students to take on leadership opportunities in an interprofessional environment and are an important resource to local communities.


Mohammed D, Turner K, Funk K. Pharmacy student involvement in student-run free clinics in the United States. Curr in Pharm Teach and Learn. 2018;10(1):41–46. doi:10.1016/j.cptl.201