The Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Model promotes a “Culture of Caring” while emphasizing the use of medical and non-medical volunteers. Being inclusive and welcoming to all is the foundation of the VIM Model. The “Culture of Caring” recognizes the strengths of those in need and respects their dignity. It prompts the idea that the manner in which people are treated during a visit to a VIM clinic is as important as the medical care they receive. Volunteers in Medicine clinics offer their services free of charge to patients and do not bill third party payers.
Volunteers in Medicine clinics, also known as the VIM Alliance, are the result of community-directed initiatives. To thrive and succeed, a VIM clinic needs to be woven into the fabric of the community.
Each VIM clinic is community-owned and supported, providing many benefits to its members:
- VIM clinics provide primary care services to the medically underserved and their families
- Hospitals benefit from a decrease in non-urgent care for patients visiting their emergency rooms and unnecessary admissions related to untreated chronic conditions
- Medical volunteers are able to practice pure medicine without the business of medicine
- Non-medical and community volunteers are able to support their neighbors in a nurturing, supportive environment
- Patients are treated as friends and neighbors, not as diseases or numbers
To be a Volunteers in Medicine clinic, the following minimum standards must be met:
- Offer healthcare to adults who are uninsured
- Provide onsite services to patients free of charge, with no patient fees (including administrative, annual or per visit fees; suggested donation amounts or required deposits)
- Have no third party or insurance billing
- Promote an inclusive environment that does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation
- Offer care that is not contingent upon ascribing to or receiving messages from a particular religion
- Appoint a clinical director who is a licensed independent practitioner in the state where the clinic is located
To join the VIM Alliance, clinics that meet these standards must also successfully complete an evaluation process. Great importance is placed upon tailoring the clinic’s services to meet community needs and developing infrastructure for long-term sustainability.
VIM Alliance membership offers access to an online forum for discussion among clinic representatives, access to discounted purchasing programs, educational conference calls, and continued support from the VIM national office. There is no membership fee. Alliance members must continue to uphold the VIM Model, complete the annual survey and meet other membership expectations in order to maintain VIM Alliance status and access to benefits.
“There is no way we could have done this without VIM.”
Organizing Committee Member
Volunteers in Medicine Clinic