The Phillips Neighborhood Clinic was started in 2003 by an interprofessional group of students under the guidance of Dr. John Song. Since its inception, thousands of patients have received free care from a wide range of interprofessional students and health professionals from across the Twin Cities.
In 2007, Brian Sick, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School, was asked to be the medical and faculty director of the clinic. He has stayed there ever since. He helps guide and mentor student volunteers across 13 different professions to provide services to the community.
The clinic is open every Monday and Thursday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m, though Dr. Sick shared that the students and their preceptors stay until every patient is treated.
One of the most frequently utilized services of the clinic is free medication. The clinic also hosts several “specialty nights”. During these events, the clinic will host professionals from across several specialties. In the past, they have provided patient services in audiology, women's health, foot care, dental care, ophthalmology and more.
“Something we’ve been focusing on a lot this year is how we interact with and help the community in general,” Dr. Sick said.
Recently, several volunteers from the clinic visited a local high school and provided students from a basketball team with free sports physicals.
“Many of the high school students would not have been able to participate in basketball because they didn’t have healthcare access or a way to get their sports physical done,” Dr. Sick said.
Dr. Sick shared that the community surrounding the clinic is heavily Spanish speaking. The clinic offers Spanish interpreters to increase accessibility to patients. Several of the interpreters are students who have demonstrated proficiency through speaking Spanish natively or studying Spanish prior to entering their health profession.
The clinic's funding is provided through grants, organizational donations, individual donations and fundraising events.
In March of 2020, the clinic was forced to close for several months due to COVID-19. Upon reopening in September 2020, the clinic began to offer telehealth care to their patients for the first time. Dr. Sick said he is really proud of the way that the volunteers have come together to provide this new modality of care.
“Telehealth services increase our access and help overcome some of the barriers that our patients face in trying to come to the clinic,” Dr. Sick said.
Over 400 students volunteer at the clinic each year. The clinic also has nearly 100 health professionals from multiple professions, but Dr. Sick said that they are always looking for more professional volunteers.
"We hear repeatedly from the students that the clinic is one of the most meaningful things that they have done throughout their education,” Dr. Sick said. “When they look back on the things that were meaningful, real and authentic, the clinic is one of the key things they point back to.”