Medical School

Service Learning Guidelines


The process of working with a community to determine needs and develop appropriate programs requires different knowledge and skills than those used in a conventional clinical setting. Community-engaged activities provide valuable experiences for our medical students, and the community relies upon us to ensure that the students we send to them are appropriately prepared, knowledgeable, and adequately supervised.
General Requirements for Pathway Related Community-engaged activities

When student-initiated community service activities are to fulfill curricular requirements (e.g. “count” for pathway non-core hours), they must meet a high standard of quality, accountability and respect for the community served, and align with the pathway-specific objectives.  Therefore, the following requirements have been approved for use across all pathways and are consistent with principles of effective community engagement and service learning pedagogy:

  1. Student-led projects or community-engaged scholarly projects (whether faculty, student or community initiated) must be proposed and approved in advance using the Service Learning Project Proposal Form (DOC)
    • Submission of the completed form including the signed agreement from three individuals: the student, a faculty advisor and a community partner who will jointly oversee the project to ensure relevance to community needs and to the pathway learning objectives.
  2. Students participating in a student-led project for pathway non-core credit (but not as a project leader/ co-leader) are held to a similar standard, and are expected to become oriented to the community served, adequately prepare for the service activity, and participate in reflection activities. 
Pathway Specific Requirements
Determining whether a community-engaged activity/ project is appropriate for a given pathway is dependent upon whether it is consistent with the pathway-specific learning objectives and the student’s Individual Learning Plan.

Check with the pathway-specific web-based materials for details and/or contact the pathway coordinator for questions about a specific activity.
Specific Requirements


  •  Any project that involves the collection or use of data from human subjects (e.g. surveys, focus groups, clinical data) for the purposes of creating/ generalizing knowledge or disseminating through presentation/ publication must have IRB decision prior to data collection.
  • All students and co-investigators must complete CITI training and complete Module 5, Social/Behavioral Research for Other research personnel)
  • Faculty advisor must serve as PI for IRB application

Clinical Service/ Screening activities (e.g. Blood pressures, school physicals, vaccinations): 

  • Student participants must be properly trained for the tasks they are to perform
  • All clinical service must be directly supervised by a licensed practitioner
  • Procedures should be clearly outlined in advance (e.g. informed consent, equipment used, process, follow-up of abnormal tests, anticipated emergencies). 
    • Equipment standards: What equipment used?  Maintained by whom? Calibrated when/how/by whom?
    • Follow-up procedures for individuals who screen positive
      • Urgent vs. non-urgent (who, where – include name/contact info of practitioner who will follow-up; notification process)
      • Counseling procedure (who, what info)
      • Documentation process (including data storage and confidentiality)

Health Education (e.g. school-based, health fairs)

  • Student educators must be properly trained/ adequately prepared to provide community-based education, including:
    • Orientation to the education/literacy levels and content knowledge of the target audience
    • Background preparation on the topic to be covered
    • Training in culturally and literacy appropriate community education methods
  • Materials should be approved by a faculty advisor for appropriateness, relevance, accuracy
  • Students may not provide specific medical advice to an individual patient without direct faculty supervision