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Article
August 14, 1991

Volunteer Clinic Caveats

Author Affiliations

The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center Department of Family and Community Medicine Tucson

The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center Department of Family and Community Medicine Tucson

JAMA. 1991;266(6):793. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470060055010
Abstract

To the Editor.  — Kleinman1 has written a valuable article on how physicians can help alleviate the harmful effects of the lack of financial access to health services by one in seven Americans. I would like to add a word of caution to two of his suggestions: (1) that physicians should volunteer at a clinic that offers services to indigent patients; and (2) that physicians should save pharmaceutical samples for patients who cannot afford to have prescriptions filled.After working for 3 years in two clinics that employed volunteer physicians, I have seen many examples of volunteers causing more harm than good. First, they have a tendency to cancel at the last minute, causing both staff and patients untold inconveniences.Volunteering should be undertaken as a firm commitment, with the intention that promises of service should not be broken. Physicians who volunteer should also learn about some of the

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