Shade Tree Clinic

Shade Tree Clinic is a comprehensive, free health clinic run by Vanderbilt University medical students. Since 2004, Vanderbilt’s medical students have played a pivotal role in creating and expanding an extraordinary, primary care medical home for hundreds of patients in Middle Tennessee. Through Shade Tree Clinic, medical and nursing students from Vanderbilt are able to enhance their medical education through practical, hands-on experience, while providing important health care and social services to a community in need.

2016-17 Medical Care

This last year has been an eventful one for the Shade Tree Clinic. Over the past 12 months, over 400 volunteers—including more than 40 faculty members—have volunteered more than 6,000 hours to provide services to our patients. We have treated six patients for Hepatitis C with the lifesaving drug, Harvoni, which normally costs $95,000 for a 12-week course. All six now have no detectable virus in their blood. With the help of a Community Foundation grant, we vaccinated more than 70% of our senior patients against potentially life-threatening diseases like pneumonia. We also implemented a new pharmacy system to keep our patients safer and continued to develop our partnership with the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy.

Social Awareness

In our effort to remove social barriers to good health, our social work department screened more than 350 patients for social work needs this year. We have also continued looking for innovative ways to help our patients overcome these obstacles. This included continuing our medical-legal partnership with the Legal Aid Society and piloting a project with Lyft to help patients make it to their appointments.

Partnerships and Fundraising

It has also been a great year for partnerships. Through an anonymous grant, we were able to buy a new retinal camera and other equipment to expand the ophthalmology services we are able to provide. We also partnered with Siloam Health and Vanderbilt Orthopedics to offer free hand surgeries to patients in need. Continued support from the Boulevard Bolt allowed us to give flu vaccines to another 300 community members—many of whom are experiencing homelessness—bringing the total for this long-running program to 6,788 flu vaccines. We continued to grow our primary fundraiser, the Shade Tree Trot and Benefit Dinner, which raised a record of $75,000 to support the clinic this year. Finally, we partnered with Proof Branding to create a new website that will be launching soon.

Expanding Shade Tree Impact

As we look forward, we continue to search for ways that we can expand our impact beyond the walls of clinic. Four of our students this year attended the annual conference of the Society of Student-Run Free Clinics where we were able to share what we do and learn from our colleagues at other schools. We have also become involved in many initiatives around the hospital to use what we have learned at Shade Tree to inform other projects.

Shade Tree Faculty Leadership

While it has been a great year, we are sad that this will be the last year of Dr. Jule West’s tenure as a Medical Director at Shade Tree. We are sorry to see her go, but we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Eleanor Weaver to this role. We are excited for all that she will bring to the clinic and our patients.

For more information about the Shade Tree Clinic, please visit


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