The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) defines service-learning as “a structured learning experience that combines community service with preparation and reflection. Students engaged in service-learning provide community service in response to community-identified concerns and learn about the context in which service is provided, the connection between their service and their academic coursework, and their roles as citizens and professionals.”
Service-learning goes beyond mere “volunteerism” which many prospective medical students already engage in as part of their eligibility for matriculation. Service-learning goes beyond charity and altruism demonstrated by community service as they have equal focus on both the service being provided and the learning that occurs.
- demonstrate the relevance of academic work to real-world experiences;
- emphasize themes of diversity, cultural medicine and socio-economic issues as they relate to health care delivery and disparity;
- provide a means for applying principles of professionalism as well as empathic and ethical care;
- expose students to potential career options and research opportunities;
- encourage students to hypothesize solutions to challenges that surface in service-learning projects;
- provide immersive opportunities for developing a basic understanding of Medical Spanish and other languages.