Service learning (SL) is "active participation in service experience with structured time for students to reflect by thinking, discussing and writing " (Corp for National and Community Service). JMS have 1 week on community pediatrics rotation, with (1) clinical: off-campus experiences with faculty including foster care intake evaluations, residential schools for blind and deaf, residential mental health program, local county health unit, federally qualified community rural health centers; and (2) written assignment: (a) define "community " and (b) "list 3 things you learned or feel differently "; and (3) primary community data: use census data to find (a) population and (b) household income of the student's hometown.
Results 27 assignments from July 2004 to October 2005 were available for review. Student hometown population median 18,928 (566-188,138), hometown median income $31,927 ($17,946-$49,389). Consistent themes included new awareness of (1) cyclical family dysfunction; (2) community extends beyond child, family, and pediatrician; (3) income divide in community; () -existence in community of facilities, agencies, and professionals outside of the academic health centers; (5) specific populations of special needs children in a given community.
Conclusion SL can be very effectively used in a JMS curriculum. Students benefit from a reflective writing exercise and introduction to primary data sources after community experience.
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