Blood pressure test

Health Professions Students Partner with Local High School to Provide Free Physicals

Gao Vang

MTS Secondary sits between Target and the Dollar Tree on Lake Street. In 2020, the high school was destroyed along with storefronts near the third precinct. The building was recently renovated and reopened in late 2021. In November of last year, several health professions students from the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic (PNC), a pediatric resident, and Brian Sick, MD, medical director for PNC, partnered with MTS to provide free physicals for six students on the basketball team.

“PNC has consistently been a valuable experience for our health professions students to learn interprofessional collaborative skills within the community,” said Sick. “One element of our three part mission is to ‘promote overall health and wellbeing in the communities we serve’. Activities such as this partnership with MTS Secondary are exactly what we should be doing.”

PNC is a free clinic operated by University of Minnesota health professions students and supervised by licensed clinicians. Adam Phan, a third year pharmacy student who serves as the PNC community relations chair, helped to organize the event with MTS staff. 

The partnership was formed after a small number of MTS students, their coach and a parent came to the clinic. Phan inquired if there were other students who needed physicals, and the coach stated that there were more students that could not afford sport physicals and would need the same service of care. A site visit was planned to begin planning an outreach service for students of MTS Secondary.  

“Free run clinics often get a bad reputation from having a stigma of not giving patients the standard of care or lower quality of care because of being run by students,” said Phan. “At PNC, students pride themselves on  providing the highest standard that we can provide to each member of the community through  listening, learning, and understanding each patient.”

Prior to volunteering at PNC, Phan had completed a community visit in the Phillips neighborhood during his first year of pharmacy school and was inspired by a community member who advocated for more boots on the ground approach. This emphasizes to have healthcare workers be there physically in the community to assess what it needs and support their goals or beliefs. “Seeing how the community can come together and what the potential impact of students can have is what drives me,” said Phan.

PNC and MTS are exploring more outreach events and partnerships together in the near future.

“PNC is often overlooked— we provide many free health care services that most people don’t know about and will continue to improve as long as the community allows us the opportunity to be a support system,” said Phan. 

PNC offers specialty nights including orthopedics, audiology, dental, dermatology, and are looking to expand. Their mission is to increase accessibility of comprehensive, patient-centered, quality health services to patients with unmet needs and develop compassionate, culturally sensitive future health professionals in an interprofessional, team-based learning environment.

The collaboration of health professions students are committed to promoting overall health and wellbeing in the communities they serve.

“Imagine being a kid and being told you can’t play basketball because you can’t afford a physical,” said Phan. “Now they have a full team and seeing the smiles of the patients is what drives us as future healthcare providers.” 

After PNC provided the free physicals to MTS student athletes, the school’s basketball team was able to start playing the following week.


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