Community Service and Learning Opportunities
Community service is a required component for undergraduate medical education. The purpose of the service component is to provide health care and advice to the underserved and marginalized through efforts of health promotion, developing interventions, and initiating and supporting community activities at clinics, community centers, homes, and anywhere the opportunities arise (e.g. neighborhood and public health clinics; special activities; Boys and Girls Clubs; homeless shelters; housing projects; family shelters; health fairs; schools).
Evaluation Form [PDF]
According to Hafferty and Franks (1994), Community Service is the hidden curriculum of medical education behind formal and informal education. "It is how students learn to adapt to the pressures, stresses, and social responsibilities of becoming a doctor. It is in this last sphere of learning that values, beliefs, and behaviors are cultivated and internalized." Social factors are important determinants in the health and well-being of individual patients, communities and populations, and society at-large.
Students experience first hand the distribution of health and illness in a population. They see the patient in the context of his or her culture and social circumstances. They are not afraid to be empathetic and compassionate if it does not distract from the medical care needed. They become more politically aware, and in some cases, radicalized. Their clinical knowledge and skills are strengthened by cultural and social awareness and become tools for being humanistic in the care and treatment of the sick, regardless of race, ethnicity, or social class.
M1s and M2s will serve the community at the non-clinical level of awareness, education and prevention. This is a good first step to getting acquainted with the community and learning of its needs.
The service goals include:
- Exposing future doctors to what it is like to be poor, homeless, or a member of a minority group that is caught up in difficult conditions of being underserved and marginalized;
- Providing students with the opportunity to serve a segment of the community with which they might not otherwise be in contact, because of socio-economic, educational, ethnic, or other differences; to build open and trusting relationships and to develop an enduring commitment to service;
- Providing clinical and social services, based on community needs;
- Creating partnerships between the medical school and the community that will serve as a mechanism for future collaborative efforts.
Community service activities are designed to foster humanism and understanding of cultural concepts and class differences, which help to develop respect and empathy, cultivate values, and adjust attitudes. Expected outcomes include: a) students seeing the potential power of health education at the community level as a mechanism for disease prevention and wellness promotion; b) exposure to the power of culture as a filter for better understanding of resistance to change traditional health beliefs and habits; c) tutoring kids and gaining insight into life in the communities (ex: how social and economic factors like one-parent households and low income and education relate to physical and mental health.
During the M1-M2 years, students will be required to volunteer a minimum total of 4 hours per semester. The total 8 hours can be served at the same location; however, a minimum of 4 hours must be spent at one site. A different site could be selected each semester so the student gains a broader knowledge of service opportunities available in the community. This would allow students to have contact with a more diverse group of people and serve populations different from their own.
- All service sites must be approved by the Office of Medical Education. A completed approval form is required for any location not listed as an approved site. The list of approved community service sites are available here and approval forms are available here. Additional service sites may be added throughout the year if approved by the COM Curriculum Committee. Therefore, you will need to review this list periodically to check for additional opportunities. The site must be approved prior to volunteering or hours will not be accepted. Retro site approval is not permitted even if the site is appropriate.
- Evaluation forms for community service must be signed by the site volunteer coordinator and submitted within one week of the date all signatures are obtained. The evaluation form is required to receive credit, even if you are involved in a group effort.
- Community service hours must be completed and submitted to Ashley Givens, Division of Medical Education (MSB 2015), by the following dates:
- M1's & M2's
- First Monday in January (1st Semester)
- Last day of Spring Semester (2nd Semester)
NOTE: All students must log their community service hours into E*Value prior to submitting the evaluation form to Ashley Givens, who will verify them before the hours can be counted toward the semester.