Fulfilling a Need: Rhodes Alumni in Medical School Step Up as Volunteers at Local COVID-19 Testing Sites

medical students
on the left: Gene Lamanilao ’16 and Sarah Shore ’16; on the right: Chloe Hundman ‘16, and Richard Moran (photo courtesy of Amy Ragsdale)

As part of the Rhodes College experience, students learn how to translate academic study and personal concern into effective leadership and action in their communities. Several Rhodes alumni who are now medical students at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in Memphis are giving back to the community as volunteers at local drive-thru testing sites for COVID-19.
They are Sanhitha Valasareddy  of the Class of 2015; Chloe Hundman, Gene Lamanilao, Jacob Hartline, Obaid Anwar, and Sarah Shore of the Class of 2016; Nalan Callonas  and Rahul Peravali of the Class of 2017; and Abby Ritter of the Class of  2018. 

"My experience working with the COVID-19 task force has reminded me and reaffirmed why I chose to become a doctor—I want to help people and my community,” says Peravali.

After the American Medical Association recommended medical students not work in hospitals during the pandemic, UTHSC students were able to staff the drive-thru testing site that opened in March at Tiger Lane at the Mid-South Fairgrounds. Under the supervision of physician faculty, volunteers are scheduled in shifts at the site each day to take nasopharyngeal samples to test for the virus. They also operate a scheduling call center.

Since March, UTHSC has opened another drive-thru testing site at the North Frayser Community Center. So far, they have tested over 3,000 patients, and all of the testing is free of charge.

Although volunteers don’t receive class credit or clinical hours, they are learning valuable lessons such as how to work with officials, calm fearful citizens, and deliver high-quality care in a crisis.
“I think it goes to show that Rhodes students continue to have a heart for service that stretches beyond their four years in college,” says Chloe Hundman, who is a third-year student at UTHSC. “We are fortunate to be able to give back to the Memphis community after calling it our second home for so many years.”  

Rhodes College has one of the top medical school acceptance rates in the nation. Eighty-six percent of Rhodes graduates with a GPA greater than 3.4 and an MCAT score greater than 57 percent have been accepted to medical school over the last five years. Students have the opportunity to participate in fellowship and research programs with partners such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Baptist Memorial Health Care, Methodist Healthcare, and many others.