Luke ’14 Learning Lessons Working Clinic Startup

Robert Luke ’14 – Six weeks ago, I was getting ready to start my first day as an intern with the Montgomery County Free Clinic.  The clinic, projected to open in August, will serve people earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty level with no insurance and are residents of Montgomery County.  The point of my internship, as advertised, was to assist in the start-up of the clinic.  Six weeks ago if you would have asked me what that meant I would have told you about my interview where Bill Doemel told me that he even was unsure what I would be doing.  There obviously were a few requirements that he outlined, but for the most part, I would be responsible for choosing the direction of my internship.

With that freedom, it has allowed me to not feel like an intern who is simply going through the motions performing the mindless tasks put in front of him.  I have been allowed to be a colleague to the people that I work with.  In a lot of cases I get the opportunity to teach my colleagues as much as they have taught me, and that is truly special.   I am not just speaking of Bill and the board of the clinic, but also our nurse practitioner and nurse manager as well as the great construction crew responsible for the re-purposing of an old bank for use as a clinic.  No matter how many years of experience they have of doing their jobs, they do not hesitate to ask for help or welcome a new set of eyes.   It is that sort of humility and camaraderie that I find is lacking in most businesses these days.  They have too much of a hierarchical arrangement where a boss is too headstrong to admit that he/she is wrong or that there may be a better way.  That is a trait that many of these great people I have been allowed to work with possess that I really want to take away from this experience as I move forward with my career.

With regards to my goals and aspirations, I wish to attend medical school in the fall of 2015 to pursue a career as a navy doctor to help serve the men and women who risk their lives every day to make ours safer.  After that, I hope to retire and start a clinic of my own to make the community around me, a safer one to live in for everyone regardless of their lot in life.  The experience that I have gained here is not only one of the most moving experiences of my life, but has shown me how there are many great people walking among us who do not help others for recognition, but simply to see the smiles on the faces they help.

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