First Inter-professional Student Run Free Clinic to Open Late 2017

March 22, 2017   |  Tags: Blog   |  Tags: Equity , Portland , Care Coordination , Care Teams , Care Management , Social Determinants of Health
Emileigh Canales, MPH

Student-run free clinics have a long-standing history of helping meet the health needs of underserved populations while also enriching students’ professional education. With this in mind, students from Portland State University (PSU), Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and Oregon State University (OSU) have joined forces with Transition Projects (TPI) to take student-run free clinics to a new level of interprofessional innovation by launching Bridges Collaborative Care Clinic (BCCC). No other student-run free clinic to date has begun as a truly interprofessional endeavor – although many have developed into interprofessional organizations - making this local effort unique.

A small group of student leaders began organizing in December 2015. The leadership team has now grown to include 75 students from nine different health professional programs, as well as dedicated faculty and community partners with support from the three affiliated universities.  The goal is to launch a fully collaborative, interprofessional clinic collocated within TPI shelters and short-term residential facilities in Fall 2017.

Once operational, students will be supervised by appropriate faculty and resident volunteers and work in interprofessional teams to manage, staff, and coordinate health and related social services including:

  • direct health screenings,
  • basic primary care,
  • triage decisions for urgent/emergent care,
  • health education classes,
  • basic dental care,
  • medication education and reconciliation, and
  • help navigating and locating needed resources.

In the meantime, while logistically preparing for the clinic, the student leaders will focus on fundraising and immersion in the community through volunteering at established service centers to gain an understanding of the social determinates that drive and impact homelessness. These activities will better equip students to provide high-quality, person-centered care rooted in the values of service learning, compassion, diversity, and empowering marginalized populations.

BCCC has three aims: providing basic health care services to TPI participants experiencing homelessness; offering students valuable hands-on opportunities through structured community-based learning experiences; and proving an entry point to health care that can bridge the gap to established primary care. In order to reach these aims, it will effectively utilize student and community resources to provide both clinical and non-clinical health services for its clients.

Furthermore, the interprofessional and collaborative structure of BCCC firmly positions engaged students on the leading edge of health services delivery. This clinic provides learning and practice of team-based service delivery that are at the heart of current reforms as Oregon strives to achieve the Triple Aim of improved experience of care, better population health, and decreased costs.

Questions? What to donate, volunteer or buy a BCCC tee-shirt? Please email

Emileigh Canales, MPH is a graduate of the Portland State University Master of Public Health: Health Management and Policy program,  where she began early organizing efforts with BCCC student leaders. She is currently serving as a BCCC Co-Chair and grateful for the opportunity to coach a dedicated group of students to make lasting, health transformation efforts in our community. Emileigh currently works as a Quality Specialist & Practice Coach at FamilyCare Health.