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UGME Service-Learning

Service-learning is defined as “a structured learning experience that combines community service with preparation and reflection”.

What is Service-Learning?

Service-learning is a unique form of experiential education that allows students to connect classroom learning with real-life community issues. It is different from “volunteering” in that c uses structure and intentionality to integrate community service experiences within the medical curriculum. Placements are set up through community consultations and are designed to enhance the medical curriculum learning objectives as well as benefit the community partners.

Goals of Service-Learning

  • To develop knowledge, skills, and professional identity through the application of academic learning in a community service environment.
  • To engage in reciprocal learning experiences with community partners, many of whom service marginalized communities, to address their needs and priorities.
  • To create opportunities for students to contribute to their personal growth as well as the medical program’s commitment to social accountability.
  • To explore the social determinants of health and how these contribute to the health status of individuals and populations, particularly those who experience low resources and marginalization.

Benefits of Service-learning for medical students

  • Enhanced academic learning, particularly in areas such as population and community health, health inequities, global health, and social medicine.
  • Personal growth and skills development in areas such as leadership, interdisciplinary care and collaboration, communication and de-escalation skills, cultural safety and humility, trauma-informed care, empathy, and compassion.
  • Increased awareness of social justice and health equity issues and how they relate to local communities and the overall practice of medicine.
  • Physician advocacy skills development.

What qualifies as Service-learning

  • Can be episodic or ongoing; you can find your own community placement or choose an experience from our list of verified Service-learning sites.
  • Minimum of 4 hours (no maximum).

Want to take part in the McMaster UGME Service-learning program? Follow these easy steps!

How to Participate in Service-Learning 1) Go to the Service-Learning page on MedPortal 2) Select a community site from the Google Sheet. You must contact the site yourself to arrange your placement. 3) Complete learning objectives on the “Service-Learning Plan and Report” 4) Register your activity in MEDSIS on the Horizontal Electives page 5) Once you finish your activity, have the community supervisor sign off on your completed hours 6) Complete reflection on the “Service-Learning Plan and Report” 7) Submit the form to the Director of Service-Learning, Dr. Diana Ahmed: What qualifies as Service-Learning? -Activities can be episodic or ongoing, depending on the site requirements. -Minimum of 4 hours (no maximum).


For more information

If you have any questions about Service-learning, please contact:

Diana R Ahmed, Director of Service Learning, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine

Current students can also find out more information on our MedPortal page