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KNOXVILLE — Every week, 30 University of Tennessee, Knoxville, students volunteer for two-hour shifts at the Remote Area Medical (RAM) headquarters housed in an abandoned schoolhouse in South Knoxville. These students help RAM workers organize hundreds of boxes of donated medical supplies in preparation to run clinics.

RAM’s biggest clinic – and what the UT volunteers consider their most significant undertaking with RAM yet – will take place in the Jacob Building in Chilhowee Park Feb. 5-6. This won’t be UT students’ first clinical experience with RAM.

In August, 15 freshman accompanied by several upperclassmen, student staff members and Provost Susan Martin traveled to St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, just outside New Orleans, to assist RAM. In September, another 13 first-year students traveled to assist with a RAM clinic in Cleveland, Tenn.

In Knoxville, students will help with setup for the clinic on Friday and will begin working at 5:15 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Craig Bleakney, UT’s service learning coordinator, expects the clinic will see more than 1,000 patients this weekend.

“These patients don’t have access to health care and might not see a physician, optometrist or dentist otherwise,” Bleakney said. “Our nursing students who are licensed nurses will be able to take blood pressures and vital signs. We also have a couple of licensed phlebotomists who will draw blood and dental assistants who will be helping the dentists.”

Other students will be registering patients for the clinic, directing traffic and acting as placeholders for patients who need to leave their spot for some reason.

Students interested in volunteering at future RAM clinics or volunteering at the RAM headquarters in Knoxville can contact Blake Price in the TeamVOLS office at

Founded in 1985, RAM is a publicly supported, nonprofit, all-volunteer airborne relief corps that provides free health, dental and eye care, veterinary services, and technical and educational assistance to people in remote areas of the United States and the world.


Abbey Taylor (865-974-9409,