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VTCSOM Engage - A New Approach to Service Learning

The mission of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is to “educate physician thought leaders through inquiry, research, and discovery.” This mission is achieved through a uniquely designed pedagogy focused on small group learning throughout a curriculum of four domains: basic science, clinical science, research, and health systems science and interprofessional practice.

Critical Service Learning

The medical school also believes that another vital piece of this education comes through Critical Service Learning in the community. A significant part of being a “physician thought leader” is being engaged not only in one’s work, but in one’s larger community as well. In order to provide high quality and safe care for patients, understanding how to work successfully in larger systems and communities through effective teamwork is a necessity.

This definition of “Critical Service learning” is distinct from “volunteering” in that volunteering represents an opportunity to offer help but without significant long term meaning and individual value development.

One resource in development now to help fulfill our mission is the VTCSOM Engage program. VTCSOM Engage will operate much like the undergraduate VTEngage program in the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) facilitating collaboration between communities, students, and faculty. VTCSOM Engage will connect students to vitally important service projects in the community, tracks their engagement activities, and provides opportunities to add meaning and value to their experiences through personal reflection and peer discussion.

The goal of this program will be to help students understand that through value based, meaningful, and critical service they can impact not only their communities and future patients but have the opportunity to create policy that can improve the overall health and wellness of their community.

Our hope is that through this VTCSOM Engage program, our students will become lifelong engaged thought leaders in their future hospitals, future communities and the world as a whole.

Learn more about the theory behind Critical Service Learning from Tania D. Mitchell from Stanford University. Also come back to this page often for updates on the program and stories about student projects.