Remote Area Medical®
- Need: A lack of basic medical, dental, and vision care for people living in isolated, impoverished, and underserved areas.
- Intervention: Free mobile medical clinics that provide care through a highly efficient system that serves as many patients as possible, utilizing a corps of volunteers made up of licensed medical professionals and laypeople.
- Results: Community members in rural and other underserved areas are provided with necessary healthcare and health education, including dental and vision services, at no cost to the patients or taxpayers.
Founded in 1985, Remote Area Medical (RAM®) is a nonprofit organization that provides free healthcare to those in need throughout the United States and in other countries.
Once RAM has been invited into a community, the setup of a RAM clinic is similar to that of natural disaster response teams. These mobile clinics turn locations such as fairgrounds and schools into temporary medical clinics. Each clinic is operated by a large volunteer network of healthcare professionals and a Community Host Group (CHG). The CHG spearheads the clinic and provides a suitable clinic location, food for volunteers, and waste management, all at no charge to RAM. The CHG also provides a local network of professionals and resources to make the clinic a success.
Clinics operate on a first-come, first-served basis. People attending the clinic typically wait several hours in advance for numbered entry tickets. The number of tickets distributed to waiting patients depends on the number of confirmed volunteers available for that day. Each person chooses between dental and medical services or vision and medical services.
Funding for RAM comes through charitable donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations. RAM receives no government funding for its mobile medical clinics.
For more information, you can watch this trailer for a documentary about RAM.
- Turnkey clinic event, which includes equipment for basic medical care, featuring an optical laboratory and mobile dental units
- Dental: cleanings, extractions, fillings, X-rays
- Vision: eye exams with eyeglasses made on site, glaucoma testing, diabetic retinopathy
- Prevention: physicals, diabetes screening, women's health exams
- Education, including educational materials, provided throughout the clinic experience
- Tens of thousands of dollars of quality healthcare for minimal cost to the community
- Professional processes, including a computerized registration system, that optimize the work hours of volunteers so as many patients as possible are served
- Veterinary Program on request, because healthy pets can mean healthier families
- Disaster relief in two ways: 1) first response, which includes aviation and mobile units and 2) provision of replacement eyeglasses and dental support after other organizations have moved out of the area
- Larger effort that involves community members in identifying, addressing, and seeking out long-term solutions to healthcare problems in their community
In 2017, RAM provided over $13 million worth of free care to more than 42,000 individuals in need.
If you would like to invite RAM to your community or if you're interested in starting up a mobile medical clinic, there are two primary barriers:
- Not all states allow medical professionals licensed in one state to volunteer in another.
- Some regulatory agencies, such as a state's Department of Health, may have objections to allowing mobile clinics.
For communities interested in spearheading a mobile medical clinic, RAM provides a RAM Community Host Group Starter Kit.
If an organization is interested in starting up its own mobile medical clinic, RAM encourages the organization's members to become RAM volunteers to learn firsthand about operating a mobile medical clinic.
Contact InformationRemote Area Medical
Mobile and episodic healthcare delivery
Sexual and reproductive health
Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention
October 20, 2014
Date updated or reviewed
November 5, 2018
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2018. Remote Area Medical® [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/770 [Accessed 25 January 2021]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.