Skip to main content

Service Learning

What is "Service Learning"?

“The concept of “service” rests at the core of the medical profession, which aspires to train physicians committed to improving the health of the community and serving the public” (AAMC, 1998). Service Learning differs from community volunteer activities/outreach in two key ways. It represents a reciprocal interaction between the community and the learner tied to specific overall objectives as agreed to by both parties. Service learning offers students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the very complex causes of societal problems and health that impact patient care. Students reflect on their experiences as it relates to their personal and professional development.


The University Of Maryland School Of Medicine engages in a variety of Service Learning Partnerships designed to address the many health and societal needs of the community, particularly in West Baltimore. Through active involvement in the surrounding community, it is anticipated that by the end of ICM (and service learning), students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of the many factors affecting health care, and patients’ and neighborhoods’ quality of life (lack of education, employment, fair and decent housing, substance abuse, mental health, poverty, violence, lack of resources, etc.).
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the physician’s professional and social responsibilities to provide care to patients who are unable to pay and to advocate for access to health care and other resources for members of traditionally underserved populations.
  3. Demonstrate through reflection, a better understanding of one’s behaviors and attitudes toward people, problems, situations, and how the aforementioned can be viewed in different ways depending on one’s perspective.

What is Reflection?

One way we learn is from our experiences. However, it is not sufficient to just “do” something. To understand the meaning of our experiences, we must take time to reflect thoughtfully about our experiences and what they mean to us (REVIEW & REFLECT) in relationship to one’s education, professional life, and future practice.

Some key concepts our students consider as they are reflecting:

  1. Communication/organizational difficulties/challenges
  2. Lack of knowledge,/understanding of situation/environment
  3. Cultural differences or stereotypes
  4. Interpersonal or inter-professional relationships
  5. Emotions or beliefs

Examples of some questions that our students should consider while reflecting:

  1. How is this experience different or similar to others that I have had?
  2. How is the experience of the community where I am working different from my own?
  3. How do I process my reaction to an incident/observation/communication– both good and bad?
  4. What is this experience teaching or should be teaching me about myself?
  5. How can I apply what I have learned from service learning to the clinical aspect of ICM, as well as my career as a future physician?


Many if not most of these partnerships are long standing ones between the School of Medicine and the community. All projects are located within a 5 mile radius of the campus. Students are responsible for their own transportation, i.e. carpooling, UMB shuttle, the Circulator, Zip Car, Uber, etc. Please visit our ICM I Partnerships webpage for a full listing of our partners.



Give Now

Contact Us

Angie Battaglia, M.S.
Program Director
Service Learning

Popular Links