The Student-Run Free Clinic in Frankfurt
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Background: A student-run free clinic (SP) for patients without health insurance has been established at the medical faculty of Goethe University Frankfurt. In SP, medical students carry out all medical and administrative tasks on their own, but under the supervision of experienced teaching physicians. The service-learning project has recently been approved as an elective. The aim of this study is to outline the SP elective and to assess its educational impact in the field of family medicine.Methods: 78 students (study group) self-assessed their basic clinical competencies using a 24-item questionnaire prior and after completion of the elective. 37 other students completed curricular training only and served as a reference (control) group. In addition, survey results of all previous elective participants were evaluated. Descriptive and bivariate statistics were computed and the p-value was set at 0.05.Results: After participating in the SP elective, 49 students in the study group (63 % response rate) evaluated their basic skills on all items significantly more positively than before. 15 Students in the control group (40.5 % response rate), meanwhile, exhibited a statistically significant improvement in only 7 of 24 basic skills. The concluding evaluation considered peer-teaching, peer-mentorship in small groups and the major practical relevance of the project to be particularly beneficial.Conclusions: The SP elective is a novel and efficient service-learning project that makes use of supervision and extensive preparation to increase the knowledge of medical students in the field of general practice. Our results indicate a significant improvement in basic clinical skills and increased interest in family medicine.