Student’s resolve providing care to communities in need receives award

Through innovative curriculum, learners at The Ohio State University College of Medicine study foundational anatomy and develop a deep understanding of body systems. They also see patients in clinical practice. One opportunity to integrate firsthand training while providing much-needed care to underserved adults is at the Columbus Free Clinic (CFC)Jessica Sciuva

CFC, a student-run free clinic within the College of Medicine, is where Jessica Sciuva, a fourth-year medical student, has dedicated her heart and soul. And it’s where she’s making lasting contributions caring for and building infrastructure for underinsured and underserved patient populations.

“Over the last four years, Jessica has volunteered hundreds of hours at the CFC as a clinician, leader and mentor,” says Robert Cooper, MD, clinical associate professor of Emergency Medicine at the Ohio State College of Medicine. Dr. Cooper also oversees the CFC, which provides walk-in primary and urgent care. 

“She manages her own panel of primary care clinic patients with care and warmth, making extra phone calls and sending emails to ensure their prescriptions are filled and their specialist visits are scheduled.

In addition to seeing patients, Sciuva has also served as CFC volunteer coordinator and guided younger medical students as they learn to run the CFC. This dedication has earned her the 2023 Charitable Healthcare Network (CHN) Free Clinic Volunteer of the Year Award.

During my time at CFC, I’ve worked to create a culture of kindness and support,” Sciuva says. This impact has truly solidified my goals to collaborate with this patient population in the future and to continue learning about inequities and barriers to health care and how we can address them.

Sciuva’ s service to patients and her leadership and mentorship contributed to her being selected for the award by many CHN volunteers at the organization that provides resources, education and advocacy to 53 member clinics delivering high-quality care to people in need. Each year, the CHN and the Ohio Department of Health recognize the accomplishments of Ohio’s free clinics with award presentations. 

Sciuva is the first student from the college to receive this award from the organization. She continues to make many genuine connections with patients, physicians and providers who volunteer at the clinic. 

“Some of my specific accomplishments at CFC include incorporating a dietitian into the clinic, restarting undergraduate shadowing following COVID-19 and building on mentoring and clinic growth,” Sciuva says. 

In addition to being involved with the general clinic, Sciuva has also worked with CFCs Gynecology Clinic as a volunteer and preceptor for underclassmen medical students, further solidifying her decision to pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology. As time goes on, the support system shes built at CFC will continue to help medical students, volunteers and faculty care for patients with a variety of medical and social needs. 

Dr. Cooper says Sciuva’s dedication and focus on patients’ social and mental health needs along with their medical needs have accelerated the understanding at the CFC of the many social contexts of health and well-being. 

“Her compassion shows in the work she does and there is no one more deserving of this award,” Dr. Cooper says.