2020 PFIG Recipient Daniel Chen
Journal Entry #1
Under the Director of Finance & Human Resources, I am the summer finance intern for Arlington Free Clinic. Before the COVID-19 crisis shut down the state of Virginia, I served as an intake volunteer and a prospective scribe. The clinic has since wonderfully adapted to the pandemic and transitioned all in-person clinics to telemedicine appointments. Although I now work remotely from home, I have been kept busy with the clinic’s donated services project. For the past three weeks, I have gathered information regarding physician pro bono donated hours/services to the clinic for the fiscal year. We convert their in-clinic and out-of-clinic visits or patient referrals to a monetary value and with the addition of donated values from larger group affiliates such as Virginia Hospital Center, physician groups, and non-medical organizations, we prepare the annual audit to run a volunteer run clinic (three million dollars plus five million donated physician services and pharmaceuticals). In turn, donors are able to receive tax deductible returns!
The first phase of my project was to transition as many physicians from a mail preference to email during these social distancing times. I called about 30 offices in a little over a week to update our master contact list. Like many companies, we used Office 365 and Sharepoint. I spent countless hours learning how to mail merge with Microsoft Excel and Word in order to contact physicians in request for their financial information. I am in the middle of this second phase where I must finish contacting all donors from previous years and begin constructing a record of all replies. The AFC Medical Case Manager has also given me a side project to value the services from three radiology groups. My job was to construct a user-friendly list for the companies to access patient information and provide the dollar value for each service, ranging from MRI to CT to ultrasound scans.
My work thus far with the free clinic has been so fun and rewarding. There is no doubt in my mind that it will, for the near future, continue to be. From attending weekly staff meetings, I learned the workplace is full of incredibly vibrant and kind people. Though I miss working with interpreters as a clinical volunteer, I understand my work as an intern is important and has profound effects for this upcoming year's budget. I appreciate the opportunities to make a real impact for underserved populations especially during these unprecedented times in which our marginalized communities have been hardest hit by the coronavirus. Many AFC patients are undocumented, uninsured, and unable to speak English, so I have been inspired to go into primary care to help these populations and reflect upon these motivations for the rest of this internship as I apply for medical schools this summer.
Journal Entry #2
The donated services project is just about halfway done as several physician groups have already replied with their subtotaled values for the past year. Next week, the Director of Finance and I will both go over the master spreadsheet and send second notifications for physicians who have not replied. Once I receive their responses, I file records and input the values into the spreadsheet for our auditor to review in August. My boss has been very kind to me and only delegates non-time-consuming tasks for me to complete outside of this main finance project. This includes reviewing contracts signed from the previous year and making note of the technicalities detailed in each form.
I am slowly returning to clinical involvement with the free clinic as I wanted to help beyond administrative tasks. Partnered with Arlington Mill Community Center, the clinic is spearheading local coronavirus testing efforts. I have been assigned to help with the calling project, which entails signing up people who request for a test, taking note of symptoms, informing, and recording their consent. There is a lot of paperwork scanning and uploading to the clinic's electronic medical record system, which I also do for another clinic assignment involving patient records. I have been recently trained to review discharge forms, laboratory/pathology reports, and radiology scans for data entry and closing medical orders.
Navigating the EMR system has been a huge part of my internship this summer. Although tedious, I appreciate the opportunity to familiarize myself with the bureaucracy of paperwork and medical technology in preparation for my future life as a physician. I am incredibly thankful for the supportive Arlington Free Clinic staff these past months as they continually introduce me to new clinical experiences in a summer many other students find extremely limiting.
Journal Entry #3
As this summer wraps up, I have extended this amazing internship for at least one more week, just to see if I can help out the clinic a little more and assist the closure of the donated services project. Not all physicians and hospital systems have responded with their subtotal estimations, so my job is to try my best to account for the remaining groups and personally contact them.
Arlington Free Clinic exemplifies the inclusive environment expected of a workplace. During weekly meetings, every volunteer and employee is given an opportunity to provide work-related and life updates to the rest of the clinic. As an intern, I really appreciated the interest and kindness everyone showed to me. We had one social event (regulated by social distancing) this summer at a beautiful park that I also thoroughly enjoyed. Fostering positive relationships at the workplace, I learned, leads to positively collaborative and productive atmospheres. I noticed every clinic member was always happy to help out another person's project or task, which I sincerely hope to replicate at every future work environment I am a part of.
During this internship, I significantly refined several technical and interpersonal skills. For example, my Excel skills and patient data entry speed improved every passing week. I am able to take in more information when glancing over patient documentation and gained a better grasp of laboratory/pathology reports. Since the beginning of work this summer, my time management has markedly improved. I am most proud of balancing the challenge of medical school applications, aiding three clinic/administrative projects, and other extracurricular activities I became involved in during the wake of the COVID crisis. Interpersonal skills such as public speaking, administrative leadership, and oral communicative skills required for effective phone conversations were enriched through this internship. Most importantly, the clinic has expanded my career goals to help vulnerable populations in medical school and beyond. This includes helping to lead social safety nets for underrepresented minorities, immigrants, and the underinsured. Inspired by Arlington Free Clinic, my remaining time at UVA will be working towards making as large of an impact as possible on the Charlottesville community. My goal is to increase accessible mental health services and lead linguistically diverse healthcare systems of the future.
If I had one piece of advice for students, it is to always strive to go outside your own comfort zone, asking if you can do more for others, learn more, and provide better care tomorrow than you had today. That is what Arlington Free Clinic has taught me and I intend to give back to them in the future, whether as a telehealth in-take volunteer, scribe, or practicing physician.