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Join our DOCS community for medical philanthropy in the 21st century

Join our DOCS community for medical philanthropy in the 21st century

The DOCS program can benefit your institution, its students, and your local communities.

DOCS provides meaningful opportunities

Everybody benefits through a DOCS program, which serves as an opportunity for students and institutions to provide necessary healthcare to underserved patients in local communities.

Patients gain access to vital healthcare services that they might otherwise never receive.

Students gain hands-on clinical experience, hone leadership skills, and receive mentorship from upperclassmen and volunteer physicians.

Community partners and DOCS student leaders establish meaningful relationships, and they work toward the common goals of meeting the specific needs of underserved patient populations and improving the well-being of your local community.

Mentorship is key: volunteer physicians mentor and oversee all students, and upperclassmen have the opportunity to teach and mentor underclassmen.

Healthcare access: bridging the gap

DOCS focuses on providing healthcare access to underserved and vulnerable populations.

Free annual health screenings provide high-risk patients with individualized prevention, health education, health coverage opportunities, and much needed access to primary and specialty care physicians. DOCS ensures access to equitable, quality health care for all patients in the community.

DOCSumentaries: Watch DOCS in action

  • University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine

    UMMSM's Department of Community Service (DOCS) program: 40 years, 4 counties, 10 annual health fair locations, 3 weekly clinics. Today, UMMSM DOCS serves many diverse South Florida communities, after starting with just 1 health fair in Big Pine Key.

  • Jack and Jill Health Fair

    This fair serves a diverse population: Guatemalan and Haitian immigrants and homeless populations of Ft. Lauderdale. JJHF has invaluable support from Women’s Forum and consistently builds new partnerships each year. Last year all patients received produce from Feeding South Florida.

  • Little Haiti Health Fair

    LHHF is the single largest health fair, having served the Haitian immigrant population for 21 years. Many patients speak only Haitian-Creole, and through a partnership with the Center for Haitian Studies (CHS), DOCS & CHS are able to help those most in need navigate the healthcare system at large.

  • Hialeah Health Fair

    With 75% of its attendees being Cuban-Americans, HHF serves the largest Spanish-speaking community in Miami. This fair had the highest enrollment in the ACA insurance marketplace in 2014, and many patients from this community were eligible for insurance plans.

  • Liberty City Health Fair

    Focusing on health literacy and education, LCHF works with the Belafonte TACOLCY (The Advisory Committee of Liberty City Youth) Center to serve one of FL’s largest Black communities, providing a safe haven and necessary resources for families in the heart of Liberty City.

  • South Dade Health Fair

    This fair serves migrant workers, located in agricultural communities in South Dade. Last year, SDHF aimed to better reach patients most in need, which included changing the location and partnering with Branches, a local community organization in Florida City.

  • Upper Keys Health Fair

    Since 2007, UKHF has been serving small, predominantly English-speaking, tight-knit boating and fishing communities. The fair is held at local schools through the generosity of the Monroe County School District. UKHF works closely with the Keys Area Health Education Center for smoking cessation, dental, and breast health education.

  • Marathon Health Fair

    MHF is uniquely held at a local hospital, it and is the youngest of the three FKHF that all occur on the same day. Marathon has the lowest per capita income in the Florida Keys, with almost 15% of the population below the poverty line. A new influx of Spanish-speakers to Marathon has been a large focus of public relations efforts.

  • Big Pine Key Health Fair

    Founded in 1971 and focusing mainly on dermatology and mental health/alcohol screening, BPK is UM’s first health fair. Held at two neighboring churches, this fair inspires a strong sense of community, and many patients have been attending for decades.

  • Key West Leadership Conference and Retreat

    Visiting students are able to present community outreach initiatives taking place at their institution and to learn about the South Florida DOCS program, which serves as an opportunity for medical students from across the country to share and learn from each other.

  • Caridad Clinic

    Caridad Clinic (CC) provides free medical care to a Hispanic immigrant population in Boynton Beach, where UM students and faculty volunteers provide primary care to patients every Saturday. MD/MPH students rotate at CC during the internal medicine rotation, and plans exist to extend to ob/gyn and psychiatry.

  • San Juan Bosco Clinic

    Although the clinic is open daily, on Tuesday nights students provide free care to Spanish-speaking patients at or below 200% of the poverty level, while rotating volunteer physicians supervise in many specialties, including cardiology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, psychiatry, and more.

  • Lotus Wellness Center Clinic

    Established in 2010, LWCC provides primary care to the women and transgender homeless guests of Lotus House and Overtown. LWCC is directed by medical students and runs every Monday night. Volunteer ob/gyn and family medicine physicians oversee the clinic.

The lasting impact of DOCS

DOCS enables communities to create positive, sustainable change.

Community organizations, medical students and physicians can work together to build a unified and sustainable medical outreach service. DOCS believes in and provides meaningful, enriching experiences for patients, students, and physicians alike.

Click below to hear from DOCS patients, students, community partners and more.

DOCS strives for healthcare equity

DOCS provides healthcare access to populations marginalized by geographic location, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and disability. Many of these individuals might otherwise have no means of receiving necessary care, and it is in these cases that DOCS can be life-changing.

Click on an image below to hear patients share how DOCS has impacted their lives.


The student experience

DOCS empowers students to foster a mentorship system and participate in community service, both of which provide invaluable hands-on experience and encourage community leadership.

Click on an image below to hear from students and alumni about how DOCS has impacted their medical education and careers.

Daniel Sussman, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine


Morgan Sendzischew, MD

Internal Medicine Chief Resident, Jackson Memorial Hospital

Former DOCS Executive Director


Amar Deshpande, MD

Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Miami's Division of Gastroenterology


Anne Kimball, MD/MPH

Pediatrics Resident, Emory University

Former Regional Campus Executive Director


William Burns, MD

General Surgery Resident, Naval Medical Center

Former DOCS Executive Director


Karenia Soto, MD

General Surgery Resident, Duke University

Former DOCS Co-Director


Daphne Papathomas

Class of 2017

Executive Board Member 2015-2016


The value DOCS provides to communities

DOCS builds long-term relationships with the members of the communities it serves by engaging directly with their organizations and advisory boards to better understand and serve their needs. The incredible gratitude patients express toward medical students for their time, dedication, and compassion speaks for itself.


Professionalism from integrated community service

Translating the academic mission of research and education into service for the community

Providing integrated community service and value-based health care

Opportunities for medical leadership

Training compassionate future generations of medical researchers and practitioners

Volunteer physicians as community leaders

University benefits: student leadership, recruitment, community service, and research

The future of DOCS

DOCS Impact on the Life of a Volunteer Physician and Medical Educator

The invaluable support of donors

The legacy of the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation supporting community health initiatives

The support and sustainability of DOCS

The DOCS model: getting started

Could your community benefit from a DOCS program?

Creating a sustainable DOCS program might seem overwhelming at first, but we’ve broken it down to a few simple steps that will help you jump-start your first event.

The following section outlines these steps. Click on one of the icons for details on a particular step.

You may also access a downloadable overview of the DOCS model here.

Identify a local community in need

Work with local communities to identify their unmet needs.

Understanding the needs of our community is an integral part of promoting health and providing quality care.

Engage your community in meaningful conversations about their health and well-being. Create opportunities for the community to provide their thoughts and ideas on the services that your DOCS program could provide. As these ideas develop and community needs emerge, identify local community leaders and partners to join the DOCS effort.

Establish an organizational framework

Teamwork is essential to DOCS and its success. Create a system that works for your institution.

DOCS is a student driven effort with advising from dedicated faculty. Medical student volunteers organize and operate clinics, health fairs, and other special initiatives throughout the year in well-defined teams. It is important that your DOCS structure is well defined to ensure efficient and effective efforts. Teams can be organized by roles based on core responsibilities, such as: management, public relations, external affairs, and research and quality improvement.

Recruit volunteers

Volunteer physicians are vital to DOCS.

Recruiting compassionate, driven, and dedicated volunteer physicians is essential to the success of DOCS - as both a service to the community and an educational opportunity for students. There are important medicolegal considerations when recruiting. Consult your institution’s administrators about issues including sovereign immunity, ability of residents, fellows and non-faculty physicians to supervise students, and the degree to which you can provide medical care in your settings; much of this is state-dependent. We are happy to share with you how we have navigated these issues in Florida.

We recommend that you start by identifying residents within primary care specialties who are passionate about community service. Such residents can be catalysts to spread your message through their respective departments.

Additionally, creating a culture unique to your DOCS program and building community is extremely important. This sense of community is imperative for bringing volunteers back. DOCS cannot function without dedicated physicians and residents!

Plan what health services to provide

It all starts with one health fair.

The DOCS model creates opportunity for patients to receive a multitude of healthcare services. Over time, we have developed a specific model that fits the needs of our students and communities — and we are ready to help you adapt a model that will work for yours.

This model aims to close the gap in health care disparities among the underserved. First, patients attend DOCS health fairs where they receive screening services for common conditions such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypertension. High-risk patients are then referred to follow-up care at community clinics (sliding-scale pay) or at DOCS student-directed clinics (free of charge). DOCS can also help patients obtain any necessary sub-speciality care in the broader healthcare system.

Regardless of their risk profile, all patients are offered assistance with signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by medical students serving as Certified Applications Counselors. Unfortunately, many patients do not qualify for ACA plans; these patients are still followed and assisted by DOCS. Click the graphic below for a closer look.

Health fair stations overview

Each health fair station adds an important piece to the puzzle of understanding patients and their health care needs.

By screening patients at several stations, the DOCS team is able to collect critical information to better understand their needs. These screenings allow DOCS to identify important information to share with patients at check-out. If needed, DOCS refers patients for follow-up care with local physicians, or provide them information about community resources.

Sample station: glucose

Identify the needs of your community prior to the fair. Continue to evaluate these needs during and after the fair to provide the best service possible.

Glucose screening is just one example of the logistical flow of a health fair station. We recommend it as an essential station to any fair. Screening for diabetes is simple and straightforward, but diabetes remains a silent yet highly prevalent disease nationwide. Use the information below to consider what you need to prepare leading up to the fair as well as what needs to happen on the day of the fair.

Develop a budget

Identify all costs that are necessary and reasonable in order to provide sustainable opportunities to your community.

Work with your team to identify communities with expressed needs, create opportunities for dialogue, recruit volunteers, and organize and advertise your health fair!

Identify a Finance and Fundraising Director to organize a strategic method for allocating funds. These funds are provided through three major avenues: (1) grants, (2) the support of donors, including philanthropic organizations and medical school alumni, and (3) fundraising within the community, for example, donations from local restaurants to provide lunch to student volunteers or gift certificates to grocery stores to subsidize supply costs.

Determine how to appropriate funds by drafting a budget for each health fair or clinic.

Do not hesitate to contact us for budget information in greater detail.

Prepare to launch your first event

Launching your first DOCS event is extremely exciting and rewarding.

Launching a fair can be a daunting task, so preparation is key! Organize your volunteers and supplies ahead of time, arrive early to set up, and prepare to see many patients. Remember to be flexible, knowing that issues you can’t predict might arise. Plan to debrief with your team afterward to analyze and evaluate the fair and discuss how things went.

Do not hesitate to connect with the DOCS Media and Outreach Team for more detailed information and resources as well as tips for organizing or expanding your first health fair or clinic.

Please contact us to let us know how it went!

Join us in building a national DOCS network

Want more information? Our DOCS team is ready to help.

Whether it is to develop a DOCS program at your institution or to share your model of medical philanthropy with us: we share the same goals.

Like what you heard? Share this DOCS model with others.

Please share this site with colleagues and peers who would like to learn how they can contribute to medical community service, in your area or in theirs.

Contact our DOCS team

We look forward to hearing from you.

We realize the importance of providing medical students with community service opportunities and hands-on clinical training, and we aim to create a consortium of medical schools with the common goal of providing quality care to the underserved.

Please contact us with any questions about starting a DOCS program at your institution. If you think something should be added to our website or overall DOCS model, please share your suggestions by emailing

Thank you for spreading the word about the DOCS model.

Let your colleagues and peers know the DOCS program, and let’s work together to spread medical philanthropy throughout the nation.

Please share this site with key members of your institution: engaged deans, faculty and students. We’ve adapted our model through decades of service, and our goal is to collaborate with other medical schools, like yours. We hope you will utilize the parts of our model that work for you!

You may access a downloadable and shareable overview of the DOCS model here


With deep gratitude we thank the Mitchell Wolfson, Sr. Foundation for their generous support towards the development of this outreach endeavor and University of Miami President Julio Frenk and Dr. Donna Shalala.


University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

DOCS Media & Outreach Team

  • Angelica Melillo
  • Daphne Papathomas
  • Nawara Alawa
  • Eric Roth

DOCS Executive Board

  • Ashley Taggart
  • William Burns
  • Rimsky Denis
  • Stefania Prendes-Alvarez
  • Dalal Eldick
  • Jennifer Murdock

Miller School of Medicine Administration

  • Dean Pascal Goldschmidt, MD
  • Mark O’Connell, MD
  • Amar Deshpande, MD
  • Alex Mechaber, MD
  • Laurence Gardner, MD
  • Mary Ann Sprinkle
  • Raysa Christodoulou

Photo Credits

  • Ali Habashi
  • Marsha Halper

University of Miami School of Communication


  • Ali Habashi, Producer
  • Lien Tran, Creative Director and Project Manager
  • Nick Carcioppolo, PhD, Message Design Consultant


  • Gabriel Brackman, web development


Department of Cinema and Interactive Media
  • Taylor Gandolfi, graphic design
  • Kelsey Kjeldsen, information architecture
  • Han Chang, video production
  • Ruth Reitan, script writing
  • Chris Roy, photography art direction
Department of Strategic Communication
  • Emilia Morrow, copy editing


Directed and produced by: Ali Habashi Based on an original idea by: Pascal J. Goldschmidt and Jennifer Murdock Narrated by: Mark O’Connell, Senior Associate Dean for Educational Development and DOCS Faculty Advisor University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Written by: Ali Habashi, Christina Delphus Project Management & Production coordination by: Christina Delphus Camera: Ali Habashi, Carmen Rodriguez, Ed Talavera, Hadley Jordan Audio: Dylan Beasley Post production: Ali Habashi Production support: Jennifer Murdock, Chad Parvus, Dalal Eldick, Rimsky Denis, Angelica Melillo, Daphne Papathomas, Christina Delphus, Emily Northrop Special thanks, Miller School of Medicine: Mary Ann Sprinkle, Christine Morris, Bridgette Nevils, Michelle Hernandez, Isidoro “Izzy” Armenteros, Nick Pikarsky, Stephanie Jennifer Davis