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August 14, 1991

Volunteer Clinic Caveats

Author Affiliations

University of California at Los Angeles Department of Medicine

University of California at Los Angeles Department of Medicine

JAMA. 1991;266(6):793. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470060055011

In Reply.  —I believe that any physician who volunteers to work with the indigent should take that commitment no less seriously than if money were changing hands. The Venice (Calif) Family Clinic turns the commitment of over 200 volunteer physicians into health care for an underserved population. One part of physician advocacy is taking indigent patients seriously and treating them respectfully; it is a cruel hoax to promise care and then not to provide it. I have addressed the issue of treating indigent patients with respect, with specific reference to an urban pediatric practice.1I believe the general principles of practice I suggest in that article are applicable to a broad range of underserved patients.In return for their efforts, volunteer physicians may themselves benefit from exposure to patients who present with different morbidity,