“Road to Empathy”: A Qualitative Exploratory Study of Trainee Experiences on a Mobile Health Clinic
Introduction. Mobile health clinics often deliver care in medically underserved communities and train student volunteers to support service delivery, but little is known about how these clinics affect trainees. Methods. We conducted a qualitative analysis of over 100 trainees' experiences volunteering with a mobile health clinic, to explore the training experience's impact on personal and professional development. Results. Volunteers' training experiences involved learning how to deliver compassionate, non-judgmental health care. They developed competencies necessary to deliver effective, understandable, and respectful care. Their understanding of the health care system and patient-provider relationships deepened, and they expressed stronger empathy for people different from themselves. Over time, trainees progressed from initial apprehension towards confidence and competence, mediated by practice and staff expertise. Discussion. Mobile clinics should support trainees in understanding community-based services for clients, in addition to cultivating patient-care skills.