By Julia Quanrud
“One of the foremost lessons I’ll carry away from this experience is the importance of flexibility in large partnerships and projects,” wrote Rachel Lindor, a 2008 recipient of the prestigious Carter Academic Service Entrepreneur (CASE) grant. “Without flexibility on the part of both sides of the partnership, the relationship between the parties could have easily soured, but instead, the partnership is thriving.”
That partnership, between Mayo Medical School and the Good Samaritan Free Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, formed the basis of Lindor’s CASE project. With the assistance of the Mayo Clinic, Lindor, a student at Mayo and graduate of the College of St. Benedict, used her $1,000 grant to purchase a high-speed scanner and laptop computer to help the Good Samaritan Free Clinic transfer its paper patient records to electronic records. By doing so, the clinic is able to avoid some of the typical issues with paper records, such as lost and misplaced paperwork.
Lindor’s project, however, went beyond just scanning medical records. With an eye toward sustainability, Lindor recognized that by making medical records more efficient, they could decrease the turnover rate of volunteer physicians that were often frustrated with the paper records system. Lindor also hypothesized that patients would have more satisfactory experiences at the clinic if they knew their records were well-maintained. With increases in volunteer and patient satisfaction, Lindor predicted that the clinic would be able to serve even more people in the Rochester community.
What Lindor didn’t predict, however, is how her CASE project would strengthen the existing partnership between Mayo Medical School and the clinic. According to Lindor:
The application of CASE funds was hugely instrumental in fostering the relationship between Mayo Medical School and the Salvation Army’s Good Samaritan Medical Clinic (GSMC). Because the process of record transfer is fairly labor intensive, a large number of students participated in the process and many of those have since become involved in other areas of the clinic as well. Partly due to these and other students’ enthusiasm for the free clinic experience, Mayo Medical School has now joined into an official partnership with the Salvation Army, in which medical students and faculty preceptors run a free clinic on alternate days of GSMC. All second-year students now rotate through the clinic on a regular basis and their technology savvy has played a large role in expanding the use of computer-based processes in both clinics. Although it would be difficult to say that the CASE grant was responsible for this partnership, the grant’s introduction of electronic record-keeping certainly facilitated the medical students’ acclimation to the free clinic environment.
As the clinic continues its transition to electronic records, Lindor has high hopes for the sustainable outcomes of her project. “It is our expectation that these first uses of the EMR [electronic medical records] represent a first step on the path to our ultimate goal… to more fully take advantage of the gains in safety and efficiency that such systems yield,” writes Lindor.
Minnesota Campus Compact continues to support the work of innovative student entrepreneurs like Lindor, recently awarding two more Minnesota students CASE grants for service learning projects. Look for more information on our new CASE students in the coming weeks!