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Staffing the Pregnancy Medical Clinic

October 2004
By: Thomas Glessner

Pregnancy help centers around the nation are converting their operations into licensed medical clinics. In doing so, they are reporting that they are seeing increased numbers of abortion-minded and abortion-vulnerable women. In addition, they are seeing dramatic increases in the number of clients choosing life as the technological miracle of ultrasound opens a window to the womb for these mothers in crisis.

When converting to a medical clinic, pregnancy centers need to understand the importance of quality staffing in order to provide their patients with the best medical services available. The basic staffing of a pregnancy help medical clinic consists of the following positions:

Clinic Director. The Clinic Director is a paid staff position. The Clinic Director manages the clinic and is responsible for assuring that all medical policies and procedures are implemented. This person is responsible for carrying out the corporation's Mission Statement, Statement of Principle, and the directives from the board of directors. The Clinic Director supervises the operations of the clinic, including the supervision of the volunteer counselors, and assures that the clinic is providing adequate and appropriate services to clients.

Pregnancy help centers that have converted into licensed medical clinics are seeing dramatic increases in the number of clients choosing life. 

Medical Director. The Medical Director serves in a volunteer capacity, is a licensed physician, and is responsible for the implementation of the clinic's policies and procedures. The Medical Director works to assure that proper standards of medical care are implemented in the clinic and is responsible for assuring that the clinic's staff and medical teams are providing appropriate health care to the clients. The Medical Director supervises all medical personnel and is directly responsible for the delivery of all medical services by the clinic.

Nurse Manager. The Nurse Manager oversees the day-to-day provision of medical services at the clinic. In regards to medical services and policies and procedures, the Nurse Manager serves under the supervision of the Medical Director. In regards to administrative issues, the Nurse Manager works under the direction of the Clinic Director. The Nurse Manager provides support and care to the clinic patients and maintains professional standards of care.

Volunteer Medical Team. This team is composed of volunteer doctors, nurses, sonographers, physician's assistants, and other healthcare professionals who play a role at the clinic. Working under the direction of the Clinic Director and the Medical Director, members of this team provide support and medical services to the clinic's patients.

Volunteer Lay Counselors. The volunteer counselors work under the supervision of the Clinic Director and provide counsel and advice to the clients/patients of the clinic. If a pregnancy counseling center becomes a medical clinic, that does not change the role of the volunteer counselors, nor does it diminish the importance of these members of the staff. It is the role of the volunteer counselor at a pregnancy help medical clinic to provide vital information to the client/patient on abortion and alternatives.

Medical Advisory Council. This council is a panel of medical professionals recruited to lend credibility to the clinic. It is comprised of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. Members of this council should be well respected in the community. Usually they do not volunteer their time at the clinic, although such a commitment would be welcome. The main purpose of the council is to lend credibility to the clinic and to provide the Clinic Director and the Medical Director with invaluable expertise and resources to call upon at various times for advice and counsel.

All personnel of the clinic, whether paid or volunteer, should be required to express full agreement with the clinic's Statement of Principle, Mission Statement, and Statement of Faith. They should hold a consistent life-affirming position on abortion and should never refer or advise a client to have an abortion. Medical personnel should hold current licenses in their professions and be in good standing with the state medical board. Medical personnel should be required to carry professional liability coverage for their work at the clinic.

The recruitment of medical personnel of the pregnancy help medical clinic is perhaps the toughest task to complete in order to make the conversion into a medical clinic. However, by enthusiastically articulating the vision of the pregnancy help medical clinic in your community, medical personnel will come forward to volunteer and help.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) has published a manual entitled The Pregnancy Help Medical Clinic Conversion Manual. This publication includes sample job descriptions for each of the positions described in this article. You can purchase this manual at NIFLA's web site, www.nifla.org.

Thomas A. Glessner, J.D., is president of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) and can be contacted at NIFLA@aol.com.



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