Student Run Homeless Clinics

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At the West Los Angeles Winter Shelter Clinics, held every Monday evening during the cold weather months from December through March.

What are the UCLA Student Run Homeless Clinics?

Samoshel Foot Clinic Practioners at Work
UCLA medical students, under the supervision of attending Dr. Mary Marfisee, providing foot care at Samoshel.

The Student Run Homeless Clinics (SRHC) were started in 1990 by the Department of Family Medicine at UCLA to provide free medical care to people who are homeless and underserved. The impetus for the SRHC came from medical students who, walking on their way to school through Westwood Village, noticed unhoused people living on the streets with unattended medical needs. They recruited Family Medicine faculty physicians to accompany them out to the streets to provide basic medical care. These weekend and evening outreach clinics quickly expanded to include several sessions per month at various shelters and transitional settings around the Los Angeles area.

Today, more than 40 medical student-run clinics per year are conducted across various clinical sites, serving as many as 1,600 patients per year, including men, women, and children. Our services include urgent care, preventive health, screening physical exams, chronic disease management, wound and foot care, immunizations, behavioral health, and referrals for social services, all under the supervision of licensed UCLA faculty and community physicians.

Santa Monica Shelter (Samoshel)
The Santa Monica Shelter (Samoshel).

Over the decades, we have developed lasting relationships with the Santa Monica Shelter (Samoshel), where we have provided care since 1994, as well as the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Winter Shelters, the Union Rescue Mission and its affiliate Hope Gardens Family Center, LAS City Mobile Hygiene Units, St. Frances Center, Project Roomkey sites, and many street encampments. Out dedication to our homeless neighbors in Westwood continues. Follow-up and continuity care for patients discharged from the hospital and emergency department (ED) is often provided at shelters and on the streets by SRHC students and residents. This has led to decreased re-admissions and overutilization of the ED.

The SRHC is a student-managed community service learning program that welcomes volunteers and is also part of the DGSOM UCLA medical curriculum (see Courses). Through the years, thousands of students have participated with SRHC. Most students join in their 1st year and remain active as student leader Chiefs throughout medical school. Many SRHC projects have originated from student initiatives including the Happy Feet free footcare clinics, Bruin Shelter, adult and pediatric immunization events, and collaborations with UCLA dental and ophthalmology. All Chiefs teach their fellow students and develop great teaching skills for residency. Family Medicine residents joined at the program’s inception and have assisted with teaching, growing the program even more.

Through SRHC, many generations of medical students have gained managerial and advanced assessment skills while developing unwavering advocacy for the underserved. Above all, our SRHC program graduates move on with a great compassion for people experiencing homelessness.