Arnold. Image: Jackson Free Clinic

by Ruth Cummins

As a first-year medical student at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jessica Arnold of Jackson wanted to give her all to one community service project.

She chose the Jackson Free Clinic on Martin Luther King Drive, a medical student-run haven for Jackson residents who can’t afford care. Arnold serves on the student-run JFC board of directors, and their duties include opening and closing the clinic and supervising operations.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at the clinic. I got to get my nose out of the books and see patients,” said Arnold, 26, who graduates in May.

“We see about 25 patients a week. Most are our regular patients, and we follow them for chronic conditions including hypertension and diabetes. We also provide psychiatric and dental services, and we have pharmacy and physical therapy students. We have a lot to offer the community.”

Even though the clinic plays a critical role, “there are some areas of Jackson that are not reached,” Arnold said. “The JFC is 10 minutes from UMMC, but there are still people who wouldn’t receive health care if not for this clinic.”

Arnold remembers joining in with other clinic volunteers who pooled their money to purchase medications for a man who coped with constant seizures.

“I feel very fulfilled by that. Even though it wasn’t part of my job as a medical student, we made an impact on his life, and potentially helped him to not have any more seizures.”