Rachel: 1st Year service

What extracurricular activities have you been involved with during your time in school? How has it made an impact on your life and in the community?

I’ve been involved in an array of activities outside of the classroom during my time in podiatric medical school, but my favorite and most memorable activities have been those that were a service to others. The first community service opportunity I participated in during my first year was the Interprofessional Community Clinic (ICC). ICC is a student-run organization at Rosalind Franklin University, and home to Scholl College. It aims to reach those who are medically underserved in our local area. ICC in partnership with the community provides accessible and quality healthcare for the underserved and underinsured. This is in an environment where students and physicians learn from one another by working together. Through ICC I have had the opportunity to work with underserved patients in my community, people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to basic health care due to their unique circumstances. I have taken medical histories and checked fasting glucose and cholesterol panels for more than 50 patients at a given site. That’s 50 people I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet and serve had I not volunteered through ICC. This opportunity has allowed me to see my own community through different eyes, ones where health care is never taken for granted. It also allowed me to feel needed. As a student, my current scope of practice is extremely limited, and there is very little I am legally allowed to do without close supervision by an attending physician. Volunteering through ICC allowed me to use the skills I do have to provide some kind of useful and meaningful care for people in my community, and that has had a lasting impact on me to this day. 

This is in an environment where students and physicians learn from one another by working together.

Early into my second year I became fascinated with pediatrics while taking Pediatric Orthopedics. I decided to use my platform as an executive board member of the Pediatrics Interest Group at RFU to create a new outreach program called Socks for Tots. It is an initiative to sew and donate cast socks to local Children’s Hospitals for kids with lower extremity immobilization devices. I extended the invitation to participate in the initiative to all programs at RFU, including Scholl College, Chicago Medical School, the College of Pharmacy, the Physical Therapy program, and the Physician’s Assistant program. Based on their individual skill sets and personal preferences, I had volunteers sewing socks, fundraising to purchase the fabric and materials for the socks, and recruiting more students to help. By the end of the program, we had sewed close to 100 cast socks of varying sizes for pediatric podiatry patients, which were later donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago and a Children’s Hospital.

With the leftover fundraising money, I purchased infant clothes and teething toys which were donated to a Children’s Hospital in Chicago for mothers in need. Despite the pure enjoyment I experienced throughout the whole process, it also elucidated the health care disparities in this country. I saw/experienced this when dropping off the infant items for mothers in need, which helped me realize there is still so much more to be done in my community. 

Rachel Zarchy

Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2023