Role of Service Learning in Medical Students’ Clinical and Professionalism Competencies (2016)




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The role of service learning in students’ acquisition of knowledge, skills and professional attitudes is poorly understood. Osteopathic medical students perform service during the first two years as one of the required elements of their ‘doctoring’ course. The availability of this data provides the first opportunity to more systematically examine the role of service learning in students’ acquisition of clinical skills and professional attitudes. Self-report data from osteopathic medical students’ required service is required for each activity or event and is now collected electronically. Starting in Fall 2015 semester, this data is now collected electronically. Data includes the type of service, and Likert scale ratings of students overall satisfaction with the experience, and the extent to which each activity meets certain learning objectives and promotes professional values such as service, integrity, respect and collaboration. Data from 458 students with a total of 1569 service learning evaluation reports are available for preliminary analysis. The most common type of service is assisting at indigent clinics, n=498 events, followed by health fairs n= 310, sporting events=203, health education and safety for children n=154 and direct health services including OMM n=120. 65.0% of students strongly agreed and 31.8% agreed the overall experience of a specific event was good for of them. 89.7% strongly agreed health career promotions was an overall good experience, followed by 88.7% for homeless services and 83.3% for school and sports physicals. 94.3% strongly agreed clinical skills objectives were met during homeless services events and 81.3% for school and sports physicals. Basic descriptive statistics facilitate understanding of students’ attitudes toward various types of service activities and generate additional hypotheses regarding satisfaction, learning objectives and professional values. Service learning is designed to provide opportunities to engage in experiential learning which is task and problem specific, improve clinical skills, and experience the benefits of altruistic behavior. The model of learning applied here originated with John Dewey (1938) and more recent elaborations by Kolb (1984) and Boyatzis (2000) who addresses issues of emotional intelligence in professional competencies. This is a step in understanding on the impact of service learning in meeting specific l objectives in medical education.