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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 keyways. 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 their impact on individual/community health and patient care. It provides important supplemental resources for communities and its members, especially in those areas that are underserved and disadvantaged.


The University of Maryland School of Medicine engages in a variety of service learning partnerships designed to address the many socio-economic needs and challenges of the Baltimore community, particularly in West Baltimore. By the end of Practice of Medicine (and service learning), through active involvement in the surrounding community with our partners, students will be able to:

      • Identify 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.).
      • Identify 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.
      • Communicate, through reflective essay, a better understanding of one’s behaviors and attitudes toward people, problems, situations, and how these views can vary depending on one’s perspective.
      • Critically reflect on one’s service learning experience in relationship to their education, professional and personal lives, and future practice.


Over the course of their first 2 years, medical students will complete a total of 25 hours of service learning with designated community partners as follows:


  1. Hours: A minimum of 20 hours is to be completed, beginning October and continuing through the end of the academic year.
  2. Schedule: Students will be expected to attend weekly/bi-weekly for a minimum total of 3 - 4 hours per month, dependent on the needs of the site and agreed upon schedule.
  3. Project Selection Process: Students will choose from a listing of Community Partnerships. Students can sign up for 4 projects of interest. This will be the same process that students will experience as they schedule their clinical years’ schedule and apply for the match. More detailed instructions will be provided closer to the sign – up period. Certain projects may require an application.
  4. Transportation: All Students are responsible for their own transportation, i.e. carpooling, UMB shuttle, the Circulator, Zip Car, Uber, etc. Travel time is not counted towards the requirement.
  5. Fingerprinting/background checks: All students working in schools and/or youth related programs will be required to undergo this process, according to an assigned schedule. This process will be managed by the Baltimore City School System and take place on campus or with the designated partner.


  1. Complete the balance of 25-hour requirement
  2. Students are strongly encouraged to continue their placement from Year I. However, they may choose another designated partner. Students are responsible for contacting and coordinating all aspects of their service-learning activities for PoM II to assure that the site can accommodate your placement. Also, see “Transportation” above.


One way we learn is from our experiences. However, it is not sufficient to just “do” something. To understand the meaning of our experiences and become more self-aware, 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 and personal lives, and future practice.

  1. Completion of Reflection/Activity Logs: Students will log all activities, dates, times of experiences in a Service Learning Log on their Portfolio Page on MedScope. These logs will provide an opportunity to take notes or include reflective commentary on each session. All students are required to submit a critically reflective essay regarding their service learning experience at the end of PoM 1 and PoM 2. Specifics TBA by the course leadership.
  2. Evaluations: Students will be evaluated by their community partner (as a group and as an individual participant). The evaluation criteria will be posted. Students will have the opportunity to complete an end of the year evaluation about their experiences. In addition, mid–year feedback sessions will be held with the course director(s).

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Norman F. Retener, MD, FACP (he/his)
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Assistant Dean of Longitudinal Undergraduate Medical Education
Course Director, Practice of Medicine 1

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