A group of students is organizing the 21st annual 5K run and walk, which will be held on the campus in Farmington, on Sept. 22.
Ardian Latifi, of Watertown, is both a student at the UConn School of Medicine and on the Board of Directors of the student-run health clinic at the South Park Inn.
"The clinic is totally student run," Latifi said. "The funding we raise from this really goes towards supplies, medicines, and equipment. It really keeps us going for the year."
The 5K is one of two major fundraisers the students host that they say are critical to the continued success of the clinic. The clinic has two exam rooms and supplies are needed.
"We see hundreds of patients a year," Latifi said. "People come in with minor problems. We don't deal with emergencies. We're able to deal with dermatological problems, muscular skeletal aches and pains. We're able to provide them medications. And we do see some patients repeatedly, so we are able to follow them and can refer them out if they have more serious issues."
It's a volunteer role at the South Park Inn that Latifi and the other students take on, adding to their already busy class schedules.
But Latifi and fellow classmates Pat Lau and Ghali Lemtiri-Chlieh, both of Farmington, view it as an essential experience for them.
"The only way to really learn medicine is to actually do it," Latifi said. "It's a double benefit. We are able to help people who may otherwise not have access to this type of care. We're also able to learn from them. They provide us a service in that way."
"It's an amazing opportunity to practice the skills we learn in school," Lemtiri-Chlieh said. "We don't have enough opportunity in this stage of our medical training to do that hands-on work. More importantly, it's important to see what it's like to be in that situation and connect with people. Ultimately, we are just trying to give back to the community."
Lau said it's a good look at what their future medical careers could entail.
"It grounds you," Lau said. "And it reminds you why you chose this profession in the first place. It's very easy to get caught up in school with the next exam. At the end of the day, we went into this to help people, and this is one of the very direct ways we can do that as students."
The road race typically raises between $2,000 and $3,000 for the clinic. Registration for the race is open now, costing $15 to register ahead of time and $20 to register on the day of the race. The race is also family-friendly, open to children nine years old and older. The race is also open to walkers.
Complete information about the race and registration can be found online, at s.uconn.edu/roadrace2018.