The Impact of Student-Run Free Clinics - An Interview with Dr. Marc Altshuler, Director of the Jefferson Center for Refugee Health

Naveed A Rahman


Marc Altshuler, M.D. is an Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine at Jefferson Medical College. Dr. Altshuler also serves as an Attending Physician and the Associate Resident Director for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Dr. Altshuler’s volunteer work began in the late 1990’s with his involvement in Jeff HOPE, Jefferson Medical College’s free student-run clinic serving the homeless community of Philadelphia. 


Dr. Altshuler’s passion for the underserved community’s health has expanded beyond the homeless population to the refugee population in Philadelphia.  In 2007, Dr. Altshuler started and is now serving as the Director of the Jefferson Center for Refugee Health (CRH), the largest medical provider of refugee healthcare in Philadelphia. At CRH, refugee clients receive comprehensive care in a medical home model. This model has been recognized both locally and nationally, and replicated throughout Philadelphia, as well as several other U.S. cities.


In 2010, Dr. Altshuler worked closely with the Nationalities Service Center, a local refugee resettlement center, to form the Philadelphia Refugee Health Collaborative—a coalition of local refugee resettlement agencies and eight area medical clinics, focusing on comprehensive refugee health care. Dr. Altshuler has been recognized for his work, both locally and nationally, where he has routinely presented at national conferences, as well as published articles in several peer-reviewed medical journals.


In this interview, Dr. Altshuler illuminates his unique perspective on student-run free clinics. He discusses the positive impact that Refugee Health Partners has made the refugee population in Philadelphia, and outlines the importance of student involvement in free clinics during preclinical years. He ruminates on the how the role of student-run clinics will change, and explains how students can adapt these clinics in order to continue to provide care for patients.

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