History and Mission
“To promote, guide and help sustain a national network of free clinics emphasizing the use of retired medical and community volunteers within a culture of caring to improve access to health care for America’s underserved and uninsured.”
Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) began in Hilton Head, South Carolina. In the early 90s, one out of three people who lived on Hilton Head Island had no access to health care, a rate twice the national average. At the same time, retired medical personnel including physicians, nurses, dentists, expressed an interest in finding a way to continue practicing their profession on a voluntary, part-time basis to help those without access to medical care.
In 1994, under the leadership of founder Dr. Jack McConnell, these two groups were brought together to open the first Volunteers in Medicine Clinic. Word spread nationally about the success of the Hilton Head VIM clinic. In response to requests for assistance in replicating the VIM model, Dr. McConnell created a separate nonprofit to assist interested communities in launching their own Volunteers in Medicine clinic.
Working with the national Volunteers in Medicine office includes learning the proven VIM Model from experienced staff members, who have dealt with many challenges in developing a free clinic at the local level. Volunteers in Medicine staff provides assistance and guides the community through each phase of the clinic development process, from the initial feasibility study through the opening of the clinic. Resource materials are available and provided throughout the development process. Once open, the clinic becomes a member of the VIM Alliance.
Founder, Dr. Jack McConnell tells his story about starting the
first Volunteers in Medicine clinic in Hilton Head, South Carolina.