The Clinic Experience: The push out of the nest

The clinic experience has been filled with opportunities both small and large to fall or fly. The clinic, by nature, asks us as clinic students to step outside of our comfort zones. This push has been exciting, terrifying and everything in between.

There has been one clinic experience that stands out to me as an exercise in personal evaluation and growth. As part of one of our projects, my teammate and I had to make a trip to a notoriously dangerous neighborhood in Chicago. I was aware of the neighborhood’s reputation, and I was extremely hesitant to make the trip. I decided to discuss my concerns with the professor and my teammate. I was asked to do some research and back up my concerns.

I came back the next week armed with a couple of articles and studies done in the neighborhood we were planning to visit. In a second discussion with the professor and my teammate, we looked at more than just the crime rates for the neighborhood. We talked about what kind of crimes were occurring and what we would do to be safe while we were there. After our talks, I wouldn’t say I felt comfortable, but I was willing to step beyond what was familiar to me and go with the team to the neighborhood.

After the trip, I looked back at the experience and the reactions I had. Everyone we met was friendly and engaging. The neighborhood didn't feel much different from the parts of the city I was more familiar with. I genuinely enjoyed the work we did while we were there.

This experience in the clinic taught me that it is okay to be hesitant about some things, but you have to be able to set back from the concern and analyze it rationally. My trip to this neighborhood was very pleasant, but I had done the research to feel more aware and comfortable with my decision. I felt like I had ownership of my choice to go. The clinic put me in a situation that I felt was unfamiliar, which scared me. I came out on the other end with a better understanding of not only that neighborhood, but also my responses to being asked to step outside of my comfort zone.