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Pathways: Students Give Back, Gain Experience at Cordoba Healthcare Clinic

Cordoba Clinic|Cordoba Clinic

UICOMP medical students gain valuable experience while assisting at a free clinic to serve the uninsured or under-insured. The Cordoba Healthcare clinic provides specialty healthcare to residents in the greater Peoria area with a dedicated team of physicians, students and volunteers from throughout central Illinois.

Cordoba’s medical student leadership board, comprised of UICOMP students, coordinates the daily operations of the clinic that is open most Sundays, 1 - 4 pm. The student board also provides educational and training opportunities for student volunteers at the clinic. One example might be demonstrating physical exam maneuvers.

The UICOMP student volunteers take patient histories and vitals and perform some physical exam maneuvers under the watch of a fully licensed physician. After patient examinations, the medical student documents the patient encounter for the physician.

UICOMP student Katherine Floess recalls her first experience as an M1 at Cordoba. Floess (MD Candidate, Class of 2023) observed a patient population that reflects those most marginalized by the healthcare system. “We serve any patient regardless of insurance status or legal status, and many of our patients are immigrants,” she says. As an M3, Floess is one of four UICOMP students who serve on the clinic's student leadership team.

“I remember how a physician came into the patient's room and, recognizing their last name, realized they were from the same part of India as themselves. The physician was able to switch over to the patient's native language, clearly making the patient more at ease.”

Floess says Cordoba provides a great setting to learn and practice clinical skills and fosters mentorship between upper-classmen and preclinical students. “As a preclinical student, Cordoba allowed me to practice my clinical exam skills and my presentations to attendings prior to entering clinicals. When I began my first rotation, I realized how much my time at Cordoba had increased my clinical skills and my clinical confidence,” she says. “Now, I am in the position to mentor the preclinical students myself. This kind of experience in med school is unique to Cordoba, and I believe provides a valuable connection between classes.”

Rahmat Na’Allah, MD, UICOMP professor of clinical family medicine, is a physician volunteer at Cordoba who underscores the value of connections the students form and nurture at Cordoba. “Service, advocacy, networking and mentorship – these four cannot be underestimated. The personal and professional satisfaction that come from caring for others and making a difference in the community are key. The upper-level students get to mentor the junior students, and together, they are improving their leadership and organizational skills,” Na’Allah says. “The students gain valuable experience as they care for the underserved and go about navigating the logistical challenges that come with taking care of the uninsured population including the social determinants of health.”

Volunteering at Cordoba allows students to work closely with nurses and other staff as well as become involved in a wide array of clinical needs. “I’ve worked with my fellow students in all aspects of running a clinic, from obtaining equipment for the clinic such as EKGs, helping produce patient education materials, organizing outreach to local organizations about Cordoba, and fundraising to help offset cost of patient care,” Floess says.

For more information on Cordoba Healthcare, visit

Volunteering at Cordoba Clinic gives me a great opportunity to provide quality medical care for the underserved population here in Peoria while applying knowledge learned in the classroom by working alongside local clinicians. Being able to provide care for patients and see the impact it has on their lives at this early stage in my career is a continual reminder of why I chose this profession.

– Justin Porter, UICOMP MD Candidate, Class of 2024

This article is part of the Winter 2021-22 edition of PathwaysRead the full issue.