Chapter Spotlight: University of Maryland, College Park

March 01, 2017

Learn more about how the University of Maryland, College Park AMSA Chapter emphasizes engaging pre-med students in meaningful service activities while inspiring critical thinking about the social determinants of health.

 Chapter Objective:

“To engage pre-med students in meaningful service activities that allow them to think critically and broadly about the social determinants of health. We promote service-learning from a model of asset-based community development and encourage our members to seek longitudinal service opportunities to help the community through a culturally competent lens.”

How did your chapter support this objective?

“With the help of AMSA’s Education and Advocacy Fellow, we have established service reflections during our off-campus service events to local food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters in Washington, D.C. We begin with a pre-trip service discussions to gather our members’ thoughts on service and its relevance to health. By contextualizing their actions within the broader theme of the importance of service to physicianship, they can be more mindful of their impact on the community during the service activity. After performing service, a few members of our leadership team lead  post-service reflections during which we foster dialogue surrounding the greater social justice issue surrounding our service. For example, after volunteering at Capital Area Food Bank, we launch questions surrounding food insecurity and poverty. Throughout our discussions, we try to  stimulate an interest in addressing health from multiple levels and lenses — as future physicians, what can we do on the individual, community, and policy levels to influence our patients’ health?”

What does the leadership team to contribute to the success of the chapter as a whole?

“Our leadership team takes initiative to plan and implement these reflection sessions. Thanks to our Co-Service Directors, who work tirelessly to coordinate reservation, transportation, and volunteer placement, we are able to host a service event every week. The rest of our leadership team rotates in pairs to lead the events and help our students reflect on their experiences. Prior to leading, they educate themselves on the issue at hand and prepare questions to ask the students. Our leadership team has also implemented a “family system” in to make our AMSA chapter feel more welcoming and approachable to new members. Building a sense of community and mentorship within AMSA has been incredibly rewarding as well.”

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