Unity Header

A Student-led, Interprofessional, Health Care Clinic

The Unity Clinic aims to provide a meaningful, interprofessional, clinical experience with real-world applications to OUHSC students. The project began in the Spring of 2017 with the ultimate vision of an interdisciplinary, mobile, student-led clinic. The foundation of the clinic was built by the Planning Committee which consisted of 12 student leaders from the seven colleges on the HSC campus, and OU social work students, in conjunction with the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs at OUHSC. Exploration of the structural, logistical, and practicality of this vision was undertaken by the Planning Committee. A detailed evaluation of comparable initiatives nationally, on the HSC campus, and possible community stakeholders was developed.

By using the information gathered by the team, a working model was developed that ultimately became the blueprint for the Unity Clinic Pilot. This included the mission, values, and possible team structure for the clinic. Based on this, the team subsequently outlined three milestones in the development of the Unity Clinic:

  • Structure: create a sustainable, replicable, standardized clinic model that allows all students to participate in a meaningful way.
  • Integration: foster institutional support for the clinic model and incorporate the Unity Clinic within the OUHSC infrastructure.
  • Mobilization: add a mobile unit to the clinic to serve the greater state of Oklahoma.

Our Mission

To promote clinical interdisciplinary/interprofessional collaboration between current and future health care providers while delivering patient-centered, high-quality health care to under-served populations of Oklahoma.

Our Values

Collaborative Environment:

  • Foster a sense of respect and understanding for students and providers of all disciplines.
  • Promote professionalism and teamwork to achieve the principles of total patient care.
  • Create educational opportunities for future providers that demonstrate the ideal provider-patient relationship, interprofessional clinical skills, and help instill the role of health care in today's society.

Quality Health Care:

  • Respect the autonomy and dignity of every patient.
  • Provide equality and equity of care to under-served patients regardless of socioeconomic status, employment status, race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, or political affiliation.
  • Provide patients with continuity of care or alternative methods to receive care.
  • Provide education to promote better health care in the community.
  • Strive for environmental sustainability in all aspects of the clinic.

Our History

Proof of Concept: Unity Clinic

In the summer of 2012, with the vision, inspiration and support of Dr. Peggy Wisdom and the Wisdom Family Foundation, a small group of faculty began a year-long process of developing an interprofessional education program on the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (HSC) campus.

During academic year 2013-2014, 18 faculty and 76 students from seven colleges and 13 disciplines completed the Empowering Patients through Interprofessional Care (EPIC) program. This curriculum required completion of four, four-hour active learning sessions in the fall of 2013 and four, four-hour clinic sessions in the spring of 2014. The curriculum for the EPIC project was designed around four core topics related to health care professional teams – Roles and Responsibilities, Ethics and Values, Communication, and Teamwork. These topics were aligned with the Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice, as outlined in the May 2011 report of the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC).

Our EPIC teams were first involved in patient care at Crossings Clinic Midtown (previously known as Good Shepherd Charitable Clinic) in downtown Oklahoma City during the spring semester of 2014. A total of 16 clinic sessions occurred on Thursday evenings with a total of 29 patients receiving longitudinal care delivered by an interprofessional team of nine to ten students. Approximately six patients per team were managed throughout the spring semester. Patients were chosen for the project based on complexity of their health care needs. During the initial visit, health care teams collaborated with each patient to determine problem lists of medical issues to be addressed at each appointment and developed goals for the patient’s health. At the final clinic session, students reviewed the progress made toward each goal. Significant improvements in health parameters were noted. 

In 2017, under the leadership of now Dr. Danial Gebreili, our OU Health Sciences student leaders sought to improve the interprofessional clinical experience on campus. Working with the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs in the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs & Faculty Development, they gathered students and faculty from all colleges to create a new structure and define the mission of the clinic. The students chose the name “Unity Clinic” to represent the collaborative nature of this endeavor.  They also defined the mission as:

"To promote clinical interdisciplinary/interprofessional collaboration between current and future healthcare providers while delivering patient-centered, high-quality health care to under-served populations of Oklahoma."

By 2020, Unity Clinic launched as a small pilot project in coordination with our local community partner, Crossings Community Clinic Midtown (previously known as Good Shepherd Clinic). Our student teams saw a small number of patients and worked drastically on process improvement.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. Our Unity Clinic teams had to quickly pivot programming using telehealth equipment. While initially this posed a significant challenge, our teams were able to leverage technology to improve their team workflow, increase team participation and student enrollment, and increase the number of patients served. The IPE clinical experience grew from serving 80 students a year to serving well over 500 students a year through Unity Clinic. We similarly increased our patients served at Crossings Midtown to well over 450 patient appointments per year.

Covid Response & Community Engagement

The OU Health COVID-19 working group recognized the educational and interdisciplinary value that the vaccine initiative could provide for healthcare students. As a result, student leaders of Unity Clinic were contacted to coordinate student volunteer recruitment, training, and on-site clinic operations for the community COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

Unity Clinic expanded its interprofessional efforts by partnering with local community leaders to meet the needs of communities with the greatest health disparities and lowest vaccination rates. Working alongside organizations with a history of community support and trust, we made COVID-19 vaccines more convenient and accessible. This has created an interprofessional, practice-based experience that empowers students to improve community health. This work has also served as a foundation for other community outreach initiatives by creating an established infrastructure and community relationships.

Recognizing Unity Clinic

Our exceptional teams have concluded their vaccine clinic experience with providing additional presentations and publications about their work. This includes features in the OU Medicine Magazine and submissions to the Nexus Summit. In the fall of 2021, our teams submitted a poster presentation on their team-based approach to assist with community vaccines. Their poster was recognized at the Nexus Summit with selection of the George E. Thibault MD Nexus Award. 

At this time, we believe we are still the only student-led interprofessional clinic in the country to include the volume of student participants and breadth of clinical professionals offered through Unity Clinic. We thank Vice Provost Dr. Valerie Williams and the over 200 members of the Interprofessional Educators & Practitioners Association for their continued support that makes Unity Clinic an ongoing possibility.

Mobile Outreach Initiative

The initial proposal for Unity Clinic was brought forward by students who were troubled by the fact that we often spend thousands of dollars and give our time and effort to international medical effort trips, which are truly necessary and impactful, yet we ignore the unmet health needs in our own community. As such, Unity Clinic has at its core a mission to address care in Oklahoma.

  • We do this first by addressing gaps in access to care. Health disparities in Oklahoma are alarming. While much effort is put into community agencies and community resources, many Oklahomans still suffer from basic access issues. Our intent is to put Unity Clinic in spaces where we can have an impact in those access gaps.
  • We intend to provide healthcare with the community, not to the community. We strive to never do anything without the community. This means we intentionally work with community partners to establish service lines. This ensures we also stay within our scope of practice as a student-led clinic.
  • Take care to the community. In addressing access, key barriers to care include transportation, taking time off work, and taking time for the appointment. This is why it is important to Unity Clinic that we be in the community, meeting patients where they are.
  • Seek follow-up/wrap-around services. We are not naïve to think that we can provide all health care to all Oklahomans.  Yet we also do not want to ask a question or do a health assessment we are not prepared to address. This includes having knowledge of additional resources beyond Unity Clinic where patients can receive assistance after their Unity Clinic encounter.

Our Future

The Unity Clinic five-year plan will be shared here soon.