Students organize free flu vaccine clinic in outer Southeast Portland

October 31, 2016

Clackamas Service Center, medical student, flu clinicTucked between a bustling 82nd Avenue and the multi-use Springwater Corridor trail in outer Southeast Portland, Clackamas Service Center is as well-utilized as it is unassuming. The front door to the building swings open often, with community members coming in for a hot meal, a medical appointment with Outside In, or, as they did during one recent afternoon, free influenza vaccinations administered by OHSU School of Medicine students.

"A little bit of energy can help a lot," said Chang Lee, second-year medical student, when describing the student-led effort to host a flu vaccine clinic for the first time.

The idea surfaced from a handful of resourceful second- and third-year medical students who recognized the benefit of such a service for vulnerable and underserved people at the beginning of flu season. Marissa Luck, third-year medical student, wrote a grant to the Oregon Medical Association. Funding was approved. Knowing the need for vaccines was not limited to the Portland metro area, Luck and her peers determined half of the grant should go to the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Pacific Northwest. Students there hosted their own clinic in the Lebanon area.

Funding from the OMA allowed each cohort of students to stock up with 100 vaccinations. The OHSU students, including Lee, Luck and Meredith Boulos, Ana Brar, Ishak Elkhal, Carter Haag and Gabriel Wilds, also gathered donations of items like blankets, socks and hygiene supplies – which went quickly during the Oct. 27 event.

medical student, flu clinic, Clackamas Service Center, MD program

The plans were well-laid but for one small detail: the students needed to learn how to administer a vaccine. Fresh into their second year of medical school, most of the student volunteers hadn't yet had clinical experiences training. Again relying on their inventiveness, the students organized a workshop on injection techniques, soliciting the help of Teresa Turnbull, D.N.P., M.N., clinical assistant professor, OHSU School of Nursing, and training over 20 students during enrichment week (a time of less didactic activity and more experiential learning).

Chang Lee, medical student, flu clinic, Clackamas Service Center, MD programAll told, dozens of vulnerable people were served during the clinic. Leftover flu vaccines went to Outside In, the Portland-based social and health services organization which visits the facility with their mobile van regularly.

"I'm continually impressed by our students' humility and dedication to service," said Paul Gorman, M.D., assistant dean for rural medical education, OHSU School of Medicine, and the faculty member who supervised the flu clinic. "It's easy to forget just how many people are on the margins. The students accomplished a great deal by organizing this event."

Pictured (top to bottom):

  • Clackamas Service Center in outer SE Portland
  • M.D. students Lee, Haag, Wilds, Boulos and Brar (left to right); Dr. Gorman in background
  • Lee administers a flu vaccine to a client at Clackamas Service Center