Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village

New Leadership Team Counts on Volunteers for The Free Clinic Success

free clinic

The second oldest of eight siblings, Abbie Rosales had plans to become an engineer. Born and raised in Fort Worth, she lived in the same home since she was born before heading off to college at Texas A & M.  In her sophomore year, her life and professional goals took a shift when her father was diagnosed with diabetes.


“My parents were not well informed about the disease and how treatable it is,” Rosales said. “Through the interactions my parents had with my father’s physician, I was able to see the reassurance and peace of mind that medicine and a physician can create. It was kind of then that I thought to myself, that’s what I want to be able to do.”


Rosales volunteered for a free clinic in Bryan, Texas and found her niche with the primary care environment. Her senior year she also worked on a project at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Rosales graduated with her undergrad degree in biomedical engineering and minor in French. Now a first-year medical student at TTUHSC School of Medicine, Rosales was appointed to lead the new leadership team for The Free Clinic. The facility is a non-billing clinic where people without medical insurance can be seen for various medical problems. Patients 18 and older from mostly lower-income backgrounds are seen according to severity.


“February 15 was our first day, and I like to describe it as a roller coaster,” Rosales said. “You are super excited because you waited so long to be on it and you are finally on the roller coaster and your heart drops as you take off.”


The Free Clinic Leadership team for 2017-2018 includes Rosales, Laynie Abraham, Katie Miller, Dean Phillips, Austin McCuistion and Chibuzo Akalonu.


“I consider myself more of a team communicator,” Rosales said. “Our team is wonderful and we hope that during our time as the leadership we can further expand what The Free Clinic has to offer.”


The team has worked to improve registration to better communicate to all team members and volunteers with instant communications.  This will help with quicker medication refills and also cut registration time down. The Free Clinic team also implemented Screening, Brief Interventions and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for substance use problems. With SBIRT, medical students will be able to appropriately screen for and identify substance abuse, plan and implement a tailored brief intervention.


The Free Clinic will continue with the specialty clinics such as Woman’s Day, Dermatology and Vaccination Clinics.


“The Free Clinic gives us a better understanding of patience for our patients,” Rosales said. “A lot of students come in and don’t understand that $4 is a lot to pay for some people. A person may have to make a choice of an inhaler or what will my family eat tomorrow. The Free Clinic experience is about adapting to your patient and opening your eyes to other situations.”


Rosales said it takes countless volunteers to provide the quality services. From students to faculty, volunteers are making a difference.


“The faculty are the engines that keep The Free Clinic moving,” Rosales said. “It would not run without them. For any volunteers, students or faculty, who are concerned about the time commitment, we say it is do-able. That time you volunteer to The Free Clinic is reflected in the immediate care of the patients. Making the time to give back is completely worth it.”


The Free Clinic Leadership Team:

Dean Phillips

  • Hometown: Happy, Texas
  • Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Texas Tech University
  • Master's of Business Administration from Rawls College of Business
  • Special project with The Free Clinic includes introduction of a Spanish-language clinic.

Austin McCuistion

  • Hometown: Arvada, CO
  • Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Abilene Christian University
  • Special project includes the monthly free-vaccine clinics and SBIRT


Laynie Abraham

  • Hometown: Marshall, Texas
  • Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Austin College
  • Special project with The Free Clinic includes Women’s Health Day

Chibuzo Akalonu

  • Bachelor’s degree in biology and minor in chemistry at Texas Tech University
  • Born in Nigeria and raised in Garland, Texas
  • Former EMT
  • Special project with The Free Clinic includes expansion of Patient Assistance Programs

 Katie Miller

  • Bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Texas Tech University
  • Hometown: Garland, Texas
  • Served as a combat medic in the army
  • Special project with The Free Clinic includes the diabetes interest group