By Martins Owen
RAOLAT Abdulai, a fourth-year medical student in Howard University College of Medicine, says attending a conference on how to organise student-run clinics changed her life.
The conference taught her about fundraising and networking with other organisations, and also allowed her to return to school to spearhead efforts to establish Howard’s first student-run health centre.
The New Freedmen’s Clinic housed in the Family Medical Group Office, Towers Building, is run by students of the College of Medicine for the low-income earners, uninsured individuals and other less privileged people.
Officially opened in June 2009, the clinic has a Nigerian, Raolat Abdulai, from Lagos State as the medical director.
In 2008, more than 3,000 women applied to a joint project between Oprah Winfrey’s magazine O and The White House Project, a national non-profit organisation working to advance women’s leadership role. The initiative, entitled Women Rule, provided training for a selected group of women leaders, to bring their dreams to fruition.
Abdulai and 79 others were selected to attend the three-day leadership-training workshop in New York, where they learnt how to write business plan, negotiate, build teams and organise themselves and others.
In addition to receiving $4,000 in alumni donations, the clinic applied and won a $30,000 grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges. The money will be largely spent on medical supplies and to pay fees. Already, the staff are working on acquiring samples from pharmaceutical companies to help conserve money.
The clinic is not only a boon for the less privileged, but also serves as a training ground for first and second year medical students. Howard University Hospital physicians are always on hand to oversee the students’ work.
Abdulai says she would ultimately like to see the clinic expand to other areas of the city. “It’s been the greatest balancing act of my life,” she says.