Health Care Practitioners' Perceptions of Volunteering at a North Seattle Free Health Care Clinic
Shish, Lane Michael
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Background: Volunteer health care practitioners are essential to free clinics providing medical care to millions of uninsured and underinsured people in the United States. However, little is known about what factors influence the recruitment and retention of volunteer health care practitioners at free health clinics and which free clinic factors enhance functionality for their practitioners. Methods: The study conducted semi-structured interviews with ten volunteer practitioners at a North Seattle free clinic. The interview transcript data were analyzed using the established qualitative method, Grounded Theory, to identify emerging categories and themes that explain the two study objectives. Results: The data revealed that intrinsic humanitarian and spiritual desires motivated practitioners to begin and remain volunteering at free clinics. Free clinic networks with colleges, churches, and health care facilities arose as a factor that increased recruitment and improved clinic function. The multi-ethnic make-up of a free clinic’s patient population emerged as a volunteer recruitment and retention motivator. Practitioner satisfaction of clinic characteristics showed to be an aspect that influenced volunteer practitioners to stay. A lower volunteer obligation for practitioners emerged as a volunteer recruitment and retention motivator and an aspect that made the free clinic function more effectively. Conclusion: The results suggest that a free clinic can increase volunteer practitioner recruitment and retention by promoting practitioner’s spirituality and humanitarian values, expanding their network, advertising the multi-ethnic make-up of the free clinic patient population, ensuring practitioner’s clinic satisfaction, and reducing practitioner volunteer obligations. Lastly, the data indicates that a large health care network and decreasing practitioner responsibilities can improve a clinic’s function for volunteer practitioners.
- Health services