News Releases

Congratulations to Dr. Michele Allen, MD for her tremendous work in coordinating first and second year medical students in their involvement in service learning projects!

Dr. Allen is an Assistant Professor within the Program in Health Disparities Research (PHDR) and is the new Director of the Medical School Service Learning Experience. Her involvement marks the PHDR’s ongoing commitment to engaging students in the community to gain real world experience and in depth understanding of the social determinants of health and their contribution to current health disparities.

“The purpose of the medical student Service Learning Experience is to have students understand health and wellness from a community perspective. We ask students to reflect on how social determinants of health shape the health context”, explains Allen.

As part of the Essentials of Clinical Medicine course, led by Dr. David Satin, MD the Service Learning Experience provides students the opportunity to get out of the classroom and into the community to receive real life experience in health challenges occurring today. Service learning helps students apply theoretical classroom learning within a real world context. Students learn to identify community strengths that can be used to address health challenges. In doing this, medical students learn that focusing on community assets, and not just deficits, can be a powerful tool for health promotion.

“This requires a change in focus as students are being trained to identify problems and fix them. But really, this strength-based perspective fits with health care innovations such as patient centered care and collaborative decision making.”

On January 30th, second year students presented their service learning experience through a poster session at Coffman Union Great Hall. First year medical students, faculty, Dean Friedman, and UMPhysicians’ CEO Dr. Bobbi Daniels, MD also attend the event. Awards were presented in three categories: Best Representation of the Principles of Community Engaged Services Learning, Best Visual Presentation, and Best Clinically focused Service Learning Poster. The students, who received the award for Best Representation of the Principles of Community Engaged Service Learning, were invited by Associate Vice President for Public Engagement Andrew Furco to present their service learning experience to the Board of Regents. Describing his time in community clinics, Salman Dar, second year medical student stated, “volunteering at community clinics helps us put a face to diseases we read about during our first two years of medical school. The patients we meet and the experiences we have imprint in our memory for far longer than any symptom list we try to memorize or any disease description we try to study.”  

For questions or comments about this article, please contact:

Huda Ahmed, MS
Community Programs Manager

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  • Last modified on March 6, 2013