Last July, I started my Lombard Fellowship at Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco, California, a women’s health and primary care clinic for underinsured and low-income women of the Bay Area. The Women’s Community Clinic’s mission is based on the principles of harm reduction, cultural inclusion, and client-centeredness, and I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about these principles and apply them in my various roles at the Clinic.
As a Lombard Fellow, I’m officially a member of the Clinic’s Workforce and Outreach Department. This department runs a program — the Western Addition Health Training Program (WAHT) — that combines education, mentorship, and leadership training to equip the women and girls of the Western Addition to directly address health inequities in their own communities. WAHT fellows, who are in the final stage of the WAHT program, facilitate health education workshops around San Francisco. As a Workforce and Outreach staff member, I am currently creating the curriculum that forms the foundation for these workshops. My goal is to create inclusive and informative workshops that empower community women and girls to both be well and help each other be well.
I also participate in our department’s Outreach program, which provides food, and safer sex and harm reduction supplies, such as condoms, hygiene kits, and safer drug use kits, to the homeless women of the Mission District in San Francisco. On Thursday nights, the Clinic partners with other amazing organizations in San Francisco to host “Ladies Night.” At Ladies Night, homeless women build a sense of community through fun activities, such as karaoke or bingo, get a hot meal, and have a safe space to have conversations with local service agencies about safer drug use and sexual activity, health, and well-being. The nights I get to help out at Ladies Night are inspiring, as I get to see and experience the supportive, joyful, and loving environment these women have created for each other.
The other half of my week is spent on the clinical side. As a volunteer-based organization, the Clinic relies on around forty “Client Services Coordinator” volunteers to facilitate client registration, check-in, and scheduling. Roughly thirty “Health Educator” volunteers serve in a role similar to a medical assistant: they room clients, take their vitals, and have client-centered, nonjudgmental conversations about the reason for their visit, birth control, and sexually transmitted infections. After a couple months of intense training, I now work as a “back shift coordinator” managing the Health Educator volunteers, ensuring the smooth operation of the Clinic, and occasionally serving as a Health Educator myself. This role has been invaluable in learning how to communicate concisely and empathetically with clients and a team of volunteers. I am also very excited to be training to become a Certified Enrollment Counselor (CEC) for Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid. As a CEC, I’ll be able to educate and help our uninsured clients and community members get access to the healthcare they need.
I can’t say enough positive things about my experience as a Lombard Fellow at the Women’s Community Clinic. Dartmouth and the Clinic’s staff and volunteers have given me—and continue to give me—so much by helping develop the deep knowledge, skills, and principles that will be integral to my ultimate plan of becoming a physician with an eye towards compassionate and educational community health.