University of South Alabama


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Community service is a required component for undergraduate medical education.  The purpose of the service component is to make available health care and advice to the underserved and marginalized through efforts or health promotion, developing interventions, and initiating and supporting community activities at clinics, community centers, at homes, and anywhere the opportunities arise, e.g., (neighborhood and public health clinics, special activities, Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs, homeless shelters; housing projects, family shelters, health fairs, schools). 


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 that values, belief, 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, and social class.

M1 and M2 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:

  1. 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 under-served and marginalized;
  2. 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
  3. Providing clinical and social services, based on community needs.
  4. 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 of traditional health beliefs and habits; c) tutoring kids gaining insight into life in the communities where social and economic factors like no father in the home and being on welfare, etc. 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 that their own. 


  1. All service sites must be approved by the Office of Medical Education, Dr. Hattie Myles.  The list of community service sites and approval forms are available above, or you can contact Ms. Judy Getty, for a copy.  Additional service sites may be added throughout the year, if approved by the COM Curriculum Committee, through Dr. Myles.  Therefore, you will need to review this list periodically to check for additional opportunities.
  2. Evaluation forms for community service must be signed by the site volunteer coordinator, and submitted to Ms Judy Getty, Division of Medical Educational 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.  This form can also be found above.
  3. The last possible date to submit community service hours will be one week before the final exam in each semester.
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