A group of UTC Public Health students, staff and faculty volunteered at the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Mobile Clinic at Rhea County Middle School. The two-day RAM clinics are open to community members in need of free medical services including dental work, women’s health, eye exams, flu shots, general medical exams, among other services. The RAM clinics serve approximately 47,000 patients per year and provides more than $15 million in free care with the help of 17,000 volunteers around the US and abroad.

The RAM clinic in Rhea County served community members from all around the region, the majority of whom were unemployed, without health insurance, and had not seen a medical professional in years. Patients lined up in the rain for hours, many sleeping overnight in the parking lot prior to the doors opening at 6 am. The special impact of the RAM clinic on the Rhea County community was featured the following Monday in the Chattanooga Free Times Press.

With the help of hundreds of volunteers, including healthcare providers (i.e., nurses, dentists, physicians, ophthalmologists, etc.), students, and community helpers, RAM provided free services to over 550 patients. Our team, representing the UTC Public Health program, took an all hands on deck approach, working multiple vital roles including:

  • welcoming patients and informing them of the various services being offered,
  • gathering patient information at registration,
  • guiding patients through the stations,
  • serving as interpreters, and
  • assisting medical providers deliver care.

It was an amazing and rewarding opportunity for all us to experience firsthand the impact of providing these healthcare services to underserved, rural populations.

“It was a humbling experience that gave me a new perspective on what I think of as a ‘community in need’. It not only showed me how RAM clinics help those in remote areas, but how much work there is still to be done as a future professional in public health.” – Zachary Farley

“Growing in up in a rural area, I have witnessed and experienced the disparities these people face every day. The RAM clinic is a truly humbling experience and allows all people to come together and make a change in their health. It was a place where people felt welcomed and earnestly cared for.” – Mckenzie Gregg

“During the registration process, it was very humbling to listen to people’s stories about why they were seeking medical services. I am glad an organization like RAM addresses the gap that rural residents experience.” – Shay Stutts

This was our first year as a program to attend RAM clinic and we look forward to expanding our role in the future to better the health of rural Tennesseans at other regional RAM clinics.