Student Education

In addition to directly meeting the ongoing healthcare needs of 2,000 plus patients a year, at minimal cost, the SRFC Project creates a unique and invaluable learning opportunity for medical, pharmaceutical, dental and integrative medicine students. The SRFC Project is nationally recognized and serves as a model and a training ground for medical leaders countrywide who are seeking to better meet the needs of underserved and vulnerable populations.

Each year:

  • 2,000+ patients served
  • 250+ medical students trained in underserved medicine and community-based integrative healthcare
  • 100+ doctors, dentists, pharmacists serve as clinic volunteers and student advisors
  • We provide more than 59,000 volunteer hours and average more than 3 hours of volunteer service for every paid hour

Trans-disciplinary education: 

We are honored to provide transdisciplinary health care and training in partnership with students and faculty from a number of San Diego academic partners.

Medical Student Education

All medical students who work at the student-run free clinic project are required to participate in elective courses that teach the philosophy, approach, and practical aspects of working at the free clinic.

First-year students complete an introductory quarter-long course that involves didactic, reflective, and clinical sessions. Syllabus - FMP 272.doc

After their introductory quarter, first- and second-year students enroll in FPM 286, where students take on administrative and clinical roles to help manage the clinic. FPM 286 has two group meetings/didactic sessions that bookend the quarter, allowing opportunities for reflection and discussion of challenging clinical situations. Syllabus - FMP 286.doc

Third-year students can participate in free clinic through a longitudinal primary-care clerkship experience, and/or a two-week selective in underserved medicine. Syllabus - FPM 410.docx

Three-quarters of the fourth-year students complete a clerkship either in family medicine or in underserved medicine as an elective experience and/or to fulfill a graduation requirement. Syllabus - FPM 432.doc Both the family medicine and the underserved medicine include extensive work at the free clinic, didactics related to underserved healthcare, and opportunities for reflection. As part of these clerkships, fourth-year students become clinical coaches for the first-year students involved in free clinic, all with the direct supervision of a faculty attending. 

All students at UCSD complete an extensive Independent Study Project. Many of these projects are focused on improving, developing, and evaluating the activites and programs of the free clinic project. 

All first-year pharmacy students at the UCSD Skaggs… rotate through the free clinic as part of their pharmacy practice course. Senior pharmacy students can apply to become one of the 8-10 pharmacy clinic managers.


San Diego is one of the largest cities in the country without a School of Dentistry. The UCSD Pre-Dental Society is an active and dedicated student organization, and the UCSD Student-Run Free Dental Clinic has become a model in the country for involving pre-dental students at the undergraduate level in administrative and clinical assisting roles. In addition, dental students from several dental schools in the nation complete visiting clerkships/rotations in underserved dentistry at the free clinic. 


Nurse practitioner students from Cal State San Marcos School of Nursing rotate through the UCSD Student Run Free Clinic Project, and UCSD medical students likewise rotate through their Student Healthcare Project in Ocean Beach.


Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) is a leading school of acupuncture and has been our partner at the free clinic since its inception in 1997. Every quarter, PCOM provides senior clinical students and supervising faculty at our Pacific Beach and Downtown clinic sites. 


Through the Community Law Project (CLP), law students from Cal Western School of Law and supervising volunteer attorneys and law school faculty provide legal education, advice, and advocacy services for a variety of legal issues.


The UCSD Student Run Free Clinic Project is a practicum and internship site for social work students supervised by the clinic lead social workers, Jim Lowell, MSW (Executive Director of Third Avenue Charitable Organization), and Charlene Atkins, MSW, who are both supervising faculty for the San Diego State School of Social Work

Resident Education

UCSD residents from a number of medical fields, UCSD pharmacy residents, and physical therapy residents from Kaiser Permanente, rotate through the Student-Run Free Clinic.