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A closer look at Stanford's free clinics

My open enrollment period at work ended last week. A yearly routine, it's easy to forget how lucky I am to be able to make health-care elections for myself and my family. But an article in today's San Francisco Chronicle reminded me of the many people who go without insurance.

Kathryn Roethl's piece highlights two Stanford-run clinics, Arbor Free Clinic in Menlo Park and Pacific Free Clinic in San Jose, that provide basic-health care services at no charge to underserved populations. More than 500 Stanford medical and premed students and about 50 physicians and specialists take turns volunteering their weekends at the clinics, which have more than 2,500 visits a year. Medical director Lars Osterberg, MD, MPH, told Roethl:

I've always felt health care is a human right In this country, we don't have that right, so when I was in med school, I vowed to do something to provide it - at least for a few patients.

The clinics not only provide medical care to those in need, but also give someone like first-year med student Jevon Plunkett an opportunity to gain hands-on experience. "It's such a great way to learn. Here, outside the classroom, I can actually see the complexities of the American health care system," he said.

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