Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Anthropology

Major Professor

S. Elizabeth Bird, Ph.D.

Keywords

Professional volunteerism, Access to health care, Medically underserved, Free clinics, Altruism

Abstract

In the U.S., the number of persons who cannot afford health care continues to rise. Providing a "safety net" for such persons is becoming increasingly important. Medical professional volunteerism provides access to health care for people who have little or no access to health care otherwise. At a not-for-profit free health clinic in Tampa, Florida, hundreds of physicians have volunteered their time in an attempt to reduce the health care gap in their community. The clinic sees thousands of persons who have very limited options in regards to their health care. This study investigates the reasons physicians volunteer and the barriers physicians face when providing free medical service. Through a survey, shadowing sessions, and focused in-depth videotaped interviews with volunteer physicians concerning the risks, rewards, experiences, and barriers of professional volunteering, a greater understanding of this important topic was obtained. This applied visual anthropological project was developed in collaboration with the free clinic in order to provide a product which would be of use to the organization at the end of the research process. This research led to an enhanced understanding of this population as well as recommendations in volunteer physician recruitment strategies.

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