Service Learning

Our vision at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry is to advance social accountability in our curriculum. In order to bring this vision to reality, we have designed a Service Learning experience that will provide students with an opportunity to concentrate early in their career on the impact of social, cultural and the economic forces on medicine and patient care. Service Learning will provide an authentic opportunity to unite academic study and community service in mutually reciprocal ways. We strongly believe that through the journey as a medical student, it is vital that there is socialization through a community of practice that includes exposure to both medical knowledge and social interaction. Over the past three years, this service learning experience has exposed our students to a community which will foster their learning in five key domains: reflection, self and other awareness, engagement and systems knowledge, and identity formation.

Students are encouraged to choose a community placement that resonates with their own values or interests or those with which they had already established a connection either through personal or school-related service or philanthropic activities. At the end of the last school year (2018-2019), there were approximately 60 different community placements (total for London and Windsor campus). Service learning may involve teaching, community development, environmental projects, and a host of other activities that contribute to the well-being of the individuals in the communities served. As an example of a service learning activity, one group has chosen to focus on the refugee population in London, Ontario, through a placement with the Cross Cultural Learner Centre.

Students must complete a minimum of 40 hours in a community placement in a non-medical capacity with a placement of their choice. They are required to have completed the 40 hours by the end of the second year. We fully acknowledge that some students may already be active in a service learning activity prior to beginning medical school, so this year we are providing the option for students to complete their service learning within the own communities over the summer months.

A core curricular and assessment requirement of Service Learning is that learners work as a group (3 group members) on a year-long project exploring a chosen Demographic Population. Students choose their service learning activities depending on their demographic population so that they can meaningfully explore the social determinants of health. This project’s focus is to recognize and respond to the social factors that are at the root of patients’ risks for, response to, and experience with, disease.

Organizations where students have completed their service learning over the past three years, include, but are not limited to:

  • The Salvation Army
  • The Downtown Mission (London and Windsor)
  • Regional HIV/AIDS Connection
  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters of London and Area
  • Goodwill Industries
  • The Boy’s and Girl’s Club
  • Alzheimer society of London
  • The Ark Aid Street Mission
  • Mount Hope
  • Camp Trillium
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • Oneida Health Centre
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Independent Living Centre
  • Mission Services of London and Windsor
  • Cardinal Place Retirement Home
  • John McGivney Children’s Centre
  • Nokee Kwe Education and Employment Centre
  • Atlhosa Native Family Healing Services Inc.
  • Autism Ontario
  • John’s Ambulance
  • Joseph’s Hospice
  • Unemployed Help Centre
  • ReForest London
  • Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Windsor-Essex County Branch
  • Chatham Kent Health Alliance
  • Special Olympics Swimming, London
  • My Sister’s Place, London
  • Youth Opportunities, London

Students must complete several primary components as part of their Service Learning project:

  • A report identifying: (a) why they have chosen their particular demographic population; (b) what the group perceives as obstacles for their population to achieve optimal health care outcomes; and, (c) the group’s plans to participate in a service learning opportunity;
  • An evidence-based report on the obstacles to achieve optimal health care outcomes for their demographic group to include 5-6 articles, and a discussion on how the obstacles serve as an indicator for challenges in clinical practice;
  • A tool kit with: (a) possible solutions to overcome health obstacles for their demographic group; (b) a discussion of how perceived notions differ from research and experiences
  • An individual reflection on their own experience.

The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry actively supports and encourages student participation in philanthropy, including voluntary service-learning and community service. In addition to mandatory curricular Service Learning activities, medical students are afforded opportunities for, and encouraged to participate in a number of volunteer and philanthropic activities that allow them to learn through service.

These activities are coordinated by the Hippocratic Council and supported by the School and provide an opportunity for students at either campus to engage with the communities in which their learning is embedded.

For more information, please contact:

  • Dr. Teresa Van Deven, Phd
  • Chair, Service Learning
  • 519 661-2111 ext. 89343