From Staff to Student: Monica

“Evening clinic is where the magic happens”

monicaMonica Nable initially learned about the Charlottesville Free Clinic as a first year student at the University of Virginia. The psychology major volunteered as an EMT with the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad. “Witnessing the challenges and frustrations of patients with no health insurance nor other access to health care besides the Emergency Department led me to pursue my MPH in order to understand more fully our health care delivery system, overall population health, and disease prevention.” Monica graduated with a Master’s of Public Health degree and was eventually hired as the District Emergency Planner for the Thomas Jefferson Health District at the Virginia Department of Health. Her responsibilities included ensuring that district localities were prepared for and able to respond to a variety of emergencies impacting the overall health of the public. “I really like public health, because it’s all about prevention and big-picture systems, but I hated sitting at a desk. I need to be constantly moving and interacting with people, which is why I switched to the Free Clinic. I love it.”

Monica began working at the CFC about three years ago and spoke highly of the unique interview process: “I was able to observe evening clinic in action, and that’s what really sold me – seeing all the evening volunteers coming together to provide care to those in need within their community was an incredible thing to witness, and that’s been my favorite part of working here.”

However, after a couple of years of CFC employment, Monica said she realized she could be doing more for our patientsbut without licensure, she couldn’t make that happen. In the spring of 2016, she was accepted to the University of Virginia’s Clinical Nurse Leader program, which is a two year, full-time nursing program for students from other academic disciplines. “Going to school full-time played a big decision as to whether or not I should stay with the clinic, but I believe in the mission so much. The volunteers are incredible, and the staff work day in and day out to make this work; it was something that I felt like I couldn’t let go of. That’s why I’m still here part-time.” Despite a rigorous course load, Monica returns to the CFC every Tuesday and Thursday to staff evening clinics: “Evening clinic is my favorite. It’s where the magic happens.”

“Our mission of providing a community health-support system that offers high-quality health care to the underserved population is something that really resonated with me. There are so many people who we depend on to make the clinic run: our volunteer providers, counselors, pharmacists and support volunteers who check-in patients, conduct financial rescreenings, and hand out prescription medications, most of whom come in straight from work or from school; the Volunteer Vittles program which feeds all our volunteers; our volunteer day nurses who come in the day after evening clinics to provide follow-up; and our volunteer medical directors who come in on the weekends to review charts.  That doesn’t even include the staff who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure this all runs smoothly.  In addition, we have outside providers through our referral network who are willing to see our patients for free or reduced costs for services such as ophthalmology, podiatry, gastroenterology, and other specialized care that we aren’t able to provide in-house. I always love to say ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ and that couldn’t be more true than at the CFC.