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Student Education


Creating Unique & Valuable Learning Opportunities

In addition to directly meeting the ongoing healthcare needs of our patients, the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project creates a unique and invaluable learning opportunity for medical, pharmaceutical, and pre-dental 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.

Transdisciplinary Education

We are honored to provide transdisciplinary health care and training in partnership with students and faculty from a number of partners in the following areas:


All medical students who work at the UCSD 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.

Over 80% of first-year medical students complete an introductory quarter-long course that involves didactic, reflective, and clinical sessions. 

After their introductory quarter, first- and second-year medical students enroll in an additional elective course where students take on administrative and clinical roles to help manage the clinic. This course has two group meetings/didactic sessions that bookend the quarter, allowing opportunities for reflection and discussion of challenging clinical situations. 

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

Approximately two-thirds of fourth-year medical students complete a clerkship either in family medicine or in underserved medicine. 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 medical 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 (ISP). Many of these projects are focused on improving, developing, and evaluating the activities and programs of the free clinic project. 


All first-year pharmacy students at the UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences rotate through the free clinic as part of their pharmacy practice course. Senior pharmacy students can apply to become one of the 12-16 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. 


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

Social Work

The UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project is a practicum and internship site for social work students from San Diego State University School of Social Work BSW program, supervised by the lead social worker, Esmeralda Martinez, BSW.

Resident Education

UCSD residents from a number of medical fields and UCSD pharmacy residents rotate through the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project.