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 of 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 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.
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:
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 how social and economic factors like one parent households and low income and education, 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 from their own.
NOTE: All students must log their community service hours into E*Value prior to submitting the evaluation form to Ms. Getty, who will verify them for verification and approval before the hours can be counted towards the semester
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