A new clinical home: our students + family medicine

For the last year and a half, a vision has been brewing in the minds of Myungsung Medical College leadership (especially Dean Dr. Roger and Vice Dean of Admin Mr. Moon): a student-based clinic where students can learn and provide quality care to the poor. And since Larry and I arrived in late August, we have been eagerly helping to bring that clinic into being.

On Monday, we will have our soft opening of the Family Medicine Unit (FMU). MCM General Hospital allocated the space for us 1 year ago. Status post construction, painting, delivery of examination tables, and a lot of elbow grease, we are almost ready.

To our knowledge, this will be the first-ever outpatient family medicine unit in Ethiopia. Family Medicine has been recognized by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health as a specialty since 2015, and there are a few FM programs, but no outpatient training sites. For our students, FM is an ideal choice, as the scope is broad, including care for all ages (prenatal to end-of-life), women’s health, prevention, and some minor procedures.

The last few weeks have been a flurry of writing policies and procedures, meeting with hospital administration, training students to help with the workflow, coordinating with hospital chaplains (who provide both a social work aspect and a spiritual support), printing paper charts, and even scrubbing the floors to remove the last traces of construction.

The space: 8 beds/exam areas curtained off into bays similar to an ER, plus 1 GYN/procedure room and  1 registration/file room.

The target patient population: people with financial hardship such that they cannot afford private care elsewhere (including other outpatient departments at MCM Hospital), or who, because of refugee status, do not qualify for government health center care. In a city of 10 million, there may be 1 million who are refugees (rough estimate).

FMU operation: we will begin offering services Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, and Saturday afternoons. As God blesses the FMU, there may be room to expand our hours and scope, even to house a FM residency program sometime in the future.

Cost to patients: 35 Ethiopian Birr ($1.26 US) and will cover whatever services we can provide within the walls of our unit.

For our students: the FMU is designed to be a feedback-rich clinical learning environment, where they can learn, practice, and teach evidence-based whole-person care. Opportunities abound to practice servant-leadership, humility (which is required for the privilege of participating!) and health care team leadership.

Please pray:

  • For the right patients to come (at present, we can handle outpatients only)
  • For the logistics as we open (the processes and flow will be new to all of us)
  • For the hiring of the right people as FMU nurse and clerk (interviews are scheduled for Jan 17 and Jan 18)
  • For favor and grace with the hospital leadership and staff (for political and financial reasons, we don’t want FMU operations to have any negative impact on the hospital).
  • For volunteers who can get licensed in Ethiopia who will love and serve and teach our students well and can help share the role of supervising and teaching in the FMU
  • For our patients, that they will find hope and life as they are served in the love of Jesus
  • For our students, that they would grow and develop into humble servant-leaders, rooted in love and mature in faith

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