The Student Dermatology Clinic for the Underserved: A Service-Learning Model to Promote Skin Health Equity




People who are uninsured and live in underserved communities face several barriers to accessing dermatologic care, including financial, geographic, and racial barriers, resulting in detrimental effects on health outcomes and quality of life. We (1) describe and evaluate an innovative, student-faculty run dermatology free clinic that serves people in marginalized populations and (2) present action steps to strategically develop community partnerships and integrate a service-learning program into a dermatology residency training program for medical students and residents. The Student Dermatology Clinic for the Underserved (SDU) is a quarterly, student-faculty run free clinic at a community health center in Pittsburgh that serves the marginalized populations within our community. Interprofessional teams of medical students and dermatology residents evaluate patients, devise patient care plans with the dermatology attending physician, and coordinate follow-up care. In a survey of residents who voluntarily participated in SDU, 88% (n=8) report that their involvement increased their awareness of health disparities and social factors impacting dermatologic care and encouraged them to be more involved in community service throughout their career. The SDU clinic is an instrumental resource in our community that allows for patient-centered, longitudinal care, while reducing barriers to access for patients in underserved communities. In this service-learning model for dermatology residency training programs, we not only address the dermatologic needs of marginalized populations, but we also create a rewarding training environment for medical students and residents that facilitates vertical learning and interprofessional collaboration, fosters an interest in health disparities, increases skin health equity, and cultivates cultural sensitivity.


Metrics Loading ...


American Academy of Dermatology Association. Burden of Skin Disease. Available from: Last updated 2016; cited Dec 1, 2021.

Bickers DR, Lim HW, Margolis D, Weinstock MA, Goodman C, Faulkner E, et al. The burden of skin diseases: 2004: A joint project of the American Academy of Dermatology Association and the Society for Investigative Dermatology. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2006 Sept 1; 55(3):490-500.

Resneck JS, Isenstein A, Kimball AB. Few Medicaid and uninsured patients are accessing dermatologists. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2006 Dec 1;55(6):1084-1088.

Resneck J, Jr., Pletcher MJ, Lozano N. Medicare, Medicaid, and access to dermatologists: the effect of patient insurance on appointment access and wait times. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2004 Jan 1;50(1):85-92.

Vaidya T, Zubritsky L, Alikhan A, Housholder A. Socioeconomic and geographic barriers to dermatology care in urban and rural US populations. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2018 Feb 1;78(2):406-408.

Tripathi R, Knusel KD, Ezaldein HH, Scott JF, Bordeaux JS. Association of Demographic and Socioeconomic Characteristics With Differences in Use of Outpatient Dermatology Services in the United States. JAMA Dermatology. 2018 Nov 1;154(11):1286-1291.

Takeshita J, Gelfand JM, Li P, Pinto L, Yu X, Rao P, et al. Psoriasis in the US Medicare Population: Prevalence, Treatment, and Factors Associated with Biologic Use. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2015 Dec 1;135(12):2955-2963.

Schmeller W. Community health workers reduce skin diseases in East African children. International Journal Of Dermatology. 1998 May 1;37(5):370-377.

Blanco G, Vasquez R, Nezafati K, Allensworth A, Bernstein IH, Cruz PD. How residency programs can foster practice for the underserved. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2012;67(1):158-159.?


2022-01-24 — Updated on 2022-04-13


How to Cite

Patel, B. M., Humphrey, V., & James, A. J. (2022). The Student Dermatology Clinic for the Underserved: A Service-Learning Model to Promote Skin Health Equity. International Journal of Medical Students, 10(1), 98–100. (Original work published April 5, 2022)

Most read articles by the same author(s)