By: Christina Torrealba (she/her), Graduate Student in Community Health and Epidemiology
Last month, second year medical students and community partners involved in the Community-Engaged Service Learning Program gathered virtually for the Service Learning Year End Celebration, hosted by Sarah Peddle, Service Learning Program Manager. The Community-Engaged Service Learning Program is offered during the first two years of Undergraduate Medical Education at Dalhousie Medicine. In the students’ first year, the program integrates community engagement concepts into classroom-based learning, with an option to participate in a community-engaged experience and small project contribution in their second year.
Forty-two Dalhousie medical students participated in the program this year, partnering with 24 community-based not-for-profit organizations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, such as Imhotep’s Legacy Academy, prideHealth, and Direction180. During the year-end celebration, each student shared a brief description of the organization that they worked with, what their project entailed, and a few “a-ha” moments that they had throughout their experience. While we heard many important “a-ha” moments from the students, we wanted to document three of the most commonly described moments:
- Being adaptable. Students found that their ever-changing projects helped them learn to adapt to new challenges and changes. From keeping up with COVID-related restrictions to recognizing when you’ve over-extended yourself, students learned valuable lessons about altering ones path when plans change.
- The patient knows best. Many students said that recognizing the expertise of patients and clients was the most eye-opening part of this experience. Some realized that they should have made their projects more patient-oriented earlier in the process, a skill that will be valuable in their future practices.
- Social determinants of health. Finally, many students saw the social determinants of health in action, understanding how things like systemic racism, classism, homophobia and sexism impact health in the real-world.
Be sure to follow DalMed Service Learning on Facebook to read more about the program and on-going community engaged experiences.
Dalhousie Medicine News story: In the spirit of social accountability and community engagement