The Free-Clinic Philosophy


At the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project, we have a philosophy of care that is humanistic, empowering, and transdisciplinary, where the community is the teacher. We believe that healthcare needs to be transformed, not only that we need access to care for all, but access to an approach to health care that helps people to transform their lives. The UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project has a core philosophy that is taught, modeled and expected by everyone involved with the Free Clinic Project. Free Clinic Philosophy has four core tenets

  • Empowerment means to create an environment where the other: individual, familiy, community take charge of their lives and achieve joy and well-being. So health care becomes environmental design, helping people to identify, address, and overcome obstacles to achieve health and wellbeing. Often this means addressing the social determinants of health, such as transportation, employment, housing, and SES status
  • Humanistic means to fill each action with empathy, congruence, and positive regard. Carl Rogers, the father of humanistic psychology, taught that all successful interactions required empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard. Congruence means to become self-aware as a health professional and to have that self-awareness help guide your interactions. Positive regard means to show respect to all, one does not have to respect someone's behavior, but you can respect the other as a human being and show them respect.
  • Transdisciplinary A transdiscipinary model is one in which all health disciplines are working together, side by side, with mutual respect, with the patient at the center, with the patient in the lead.
  • Community as Teacher The community, the patients, will teach us how to be good physicians to them, and will teach us the solutions. They also teach us about how to face and overcome the challenges of life with wisdom and strength.

At the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project, we teach these tenets, model them and expect the students and everyone involved to model them. We believe that these behaviors, practiced and modeled by health professionals, especially physicians, could help transform the practice of health care. We are honored that we provide these services to those without access to care, who fall through the cracks. That is why we call it underserved health care, rather than poverty or charity medicine. Inherent in the term underserved health care is the concept of a right to health care.