TUSM students have always been well known not only for their commitment to learning, but also for their desire to use their growing knowledge to make a difference in their community. A desire so strong that they were willing to put their medical school studies on hold to do so; but although programs existed to allow students to study and to conduct research outside TUSM’s campus, no formal program allowed students to pursue active citizenship. Realizing that the challenge this posed for students conflicted with the medical school’s commitment to community service, in 2010 TUSM partnered with the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service to establish the Active Citizenship Program (ACP). "Students have always been doing this type of work at TUSM but we never had a program to fit their needs,” said Amy Kuhlik, MD, Dean for Students.
ACP enables students to pursue an intensive experience in active citizenship as it relates to the practice of medicine or public health. Students with clinical experience (usually after their third year) can take six months to a year performing full-time volunteer work in an underserved area. As part of the program, students complete curricular modules developed in partnership with Tisch and take midterm and final evaluations. Dean Kuhlik said working closely with the Tisch College staff has helped TUSM to grow this initiative. "Medicine at its core is about service to people, so the fit with Tisch College is extremely natural."
According to Dean Kuhlik, “The Active Citizenship Program was developed in parallel with the goals of the medical school.” One of these goals is to increase students’ awareness of global health concerns, so it is not surprising that all three students who have participated in ACP since its creation have ventured abroad to complete their community service projects. Read their stories at right.