The goal of Tzu Chi medical clinics is to address the needs of those most in need in neighborhoods where access to appropriate medical care often is not available to them. The doctor-patient relationship has always been a priority as well as putting the needs of patients first. The El Monte, Calif. clinic is one such clinic that has longtime doctors administering care with hopes to bring in new volunteers to one day take over with the same dedication and compassion.
While the doctors believe in the importance of the doctor patient relationship as one of family, they always wish to pass down the spirit of humanitarianism to the next generation of volunteer doctors as well.
Tzu Chi volunteer doctors at El Monte have been at the clinic for many years and are maturing closer to retirement age leaving room for younger medical staff to come in, learn and take over the reins. Bringing in student volunteers is important but can also be a challenge. However, El Monte continues to tackle the sustainability of their services and spirit with promising results.
One of El Monte’s longtime volunteers is Michael Ma, a dentist at the dental clinic who began practicing in the USA Tzu Chi free health clinic back in 1993. He had been invited by doctor Richard Chang.
Dentist Peter Chen also has a long history with volunteering at El Monte, as he started practicing in the US clinic in 1993:
The clinic also attracted Shin-Cung Chen, an acupuncture practitioner who decided to devote his work to volunteering with Tzu Chi El Monte clinic after ending his own private practice in 2006. At first there was far fewer patients than the more than 600 who currently come in monthly.
The clinic holds regular dental assistant training classes and has approximately 30 students each semester. Students receive a certificate after completion of the course. One student, Daniel Taw, completed the eight weeks of training from varying dentists and volunteered 100 hours in Tzu Chi’s clinic. As a certified hygienist, he has volunteered for more than a year.
It is the hope of the clinic doctors that the volunteers will aspire to use their skills to work at the clinic and do something good.